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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FER0082261
  • Date: 21 May 2007
  • Public Authority: Department of the Environment (NI)
  • Summary: The complainant on 1 January 2005 made a request to the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland (the Department) for a copy of a planning enforcement file relating to his planning application. The Department allowed the complainant to view the file but withheld some information contained in the file. In responding to his request, the Department subsequently applied the exemptions under sections 40, 42 and 30 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to parts of the file, some of which he had already viewed. Following correspondence with the Information Commissioner, the Department dealt with the request under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), relying on regulations 12(5)(b) and 13(1) to withhold the information sought. As a result of the intervention of the Commissioner, the Department undertook to disclose a redacted copy of correspondence with its in-house solicitors to the complainant and withheld the remaining information. The Commissioner is satisfied that the remaining redactions contained in the legal correspondence are exempt by virtue of regulation 12(5) (b) of the EIR The Commissioner is satisfied that to disclose the outstanding third party personal information contained in the enforcement file would be unfair to the individuals involved and is therefore exempt under Regulation 13 of the EIR. The Commissioner is of the view that in relation to that correspondence between the Department and its external legal advisors exception 12 (5) (b) is not engaged and in any event the privilege in this information has been waived due to the complainant being privy to its content. The Commissioner orders the Department to release that information to the complainant. An appeal was made to the Information Tribunal, but the appeal was dismissed.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]