Freedom of Information Law Appeal – Decision Notice issued

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The Information Commissioner (‘the Commissioner’) has ruled that the Chief Minister’s Department will have to make further disclosure connected to a request under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 (‘the Law’) made by the applicant for all emails between members of the then Council of Ministers in the month of October, 2014.

In its initial response to the applicant’s request, the Chief Minister’s Department, as the ‘scheduled public authority’ under the Law (‘the SPA’), provided the applicant with a number of emails, some of which were fully or partly redacted (the SPA relying on a number of exemptions under the Law). The applicant subsequently appealed to the Information Commissioner under Article 46 of the Law, seeking a review of the SPA’s decision to rely on certain of those exemptions, details of which are contained within the Commissioner’s Decision Notice.

Following enquiry it is the Commissioner’s decision that ‘whilst the SPA is entitled to rely on some of these exemptions to withhold certain of the emails (or parts thereof), some of the exemptions are not engaged and thus the SPA must disclose such information in order to comply with the legislation.’ The Commissioner therefore finds that ‘The complaint is therefore partly upheld.

The Decision Notice requires the SPA to make certain further disclosures within 35 calendar days of the date of the notice.

In making this finding the Commissioner also records, within the appendix to the Decision Notice, that a significant number of emails which were subject of the request were appropriately fully or partly redacted and in accordance with exemptions under the Law.

Anyone can apply for information held by a “scheduled public authority” (States departments, parishes, police and judicial bodies) under the law, which states that information held by a scheduled public authority must be disclosed on request unless it meets specific exemption criteria set out in the Law.
The legislation provides a two-stage appeal process, firstly to the authority that holds the information, and secondly to the independent Commissioner.

(To view the full Decision Notice – Select the ‘Freedom of Information’ tab on the above menu and then select ‘Decision Notices’ on the following page.)

In light of Article 47 of the Law, which allows for appeal to the Royal Court against a decision of the Information Commissioner, no further comment will be made at this time.

Notes
The Information Commissioner has responsibility for promoting and enforcing the Data Protection (Jersey) Law 2005 (DPL) and the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law 2011 (FOIL). She is Jersey’s independent authority tasked with upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. The Information Commissioner does this by providing guidance to individuals and organisations, solving problems where she can and taking appropriate action where the law is broken.