Ms Q and the HSE West

JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date23 July 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator annulled the decision of the HSE to charge a search and retrieval fee in this case
Record Number150029
CourtInformation Commission
RespondentHSE West
Whether the HSE was justified in its decision under section 47 of the FOI Act to charge a fee for the cost of the search for and retrieval of records sought
Conducted in accordance with section 34(2) of the FOI Act by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review

On 11 June 2014 the applicant submitted a request to the HSE for copies of records held by various members of staff of Galway Roscommon hospital. On 18 July 2014 the HSE wrote to the applicant requesting payment of a deposit of €419 on the basis of estimated search and retrieval fees of €838. It also invited the applicant to amend the request in order to reduce or eliminate the deposit or fee required. On 13 August 2014 the applicant sought an internal review of the HSE's decision to charge a fee for the search and retrieval of relevant records.

Following further contact between the applicant and the HSE, the applicant submitted an amended request on 2 September 2014. On 12 November 2014 the HSE informed the applicant that the amended request continued to attract search and retrieval fees and that, in line with the introduction of a revised fees regime introduced under the FOI Act 2014, it had decided to cap the search and retrieval costs at €500 and to seek a deposit of €250. The applicant sought a review of that decision on 2 December 2014 and the HSE upheld the decision by letter dated 9 January 2015. The applicant applied to this Office for a review of the HSE's decision to charge the estimated fee on 29 January 2015.

In conducting my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between my Office and both the HSE and the applicant, to the correspondence between the applicant and the HSE, and to the provisions of the FOI Act.

In the interests of clarity, I should point out that this review was carried out under the provisions of the FOI Acts 1997-2003, notwithstanding the fact that the FOI Act 2014 has now been enacted. The transitional provisions in section 55 of the 2014 Act provide that any action commenced under the 1997 Act but not completed before the commencement of the 2014 Act shall continue to be performed and shall be completed as if the 1997 Act had not been repealed.

Scope of Review

The scope of this review is concerned solely with the question of whether the HSE was justified in deciding to charge a fee of €500.00 for the release...

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