Ms Z and The Legal Aid Board

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeStephen Rafferty Senior Investigator
Judgment Date25 May 2015
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the decision of the Board.
Record Number150008
RespondentThe Legal Aid Board
Whether the Board was justified in its decision to refuse access to further records relating to the applicant under section 10(1)(a) of the FOI Act, on the basis that no further relevant records exist or can be found 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 Background

The applicant was a trainee at the Family Mediation Service (FMS), which is part of the Legal Aid Board, as part of a course run by NUI Maynooth. In a request dated 21 July 2014, the applicant sought access to all correspondence relating to her held by the Board. On 19 August 2014, the Board decided to grant the request. On 21 August 2014, the applicant informed the Board that certain information was missing, following which two further records were released.

On 9 September 2014 the applicant sought an internal review of the Board's decision and on 20 October 2014 the Board released further records relating to her request and stated that all relevant records had now been released. On 8 January 2015 the applicant applied to this Office for a review of the Board's decision.

I note that Ms Sandra Murdiff, Investigating Officer, contacted the applicant by email on 23 April 2015 and outlined her view that the Board's refusal to grant access to further records relating to her request was justified. Ms Murdiff invited the applicant to make further comments if she disagreed with that view. As the applicant remains of the view that further records exist, I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal binding decision. In conducting this review I have had regard to the Board's decisions on the matter and its communications with this Office, and to the applicant's communications with this Office and the Board.

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 solely concerned with whether or not the Board was justified, under section 10(1)(a) of the FOI Act, in deciding to refuse access to further records...

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