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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

ADT FOI decisions: ongoing battle.....

Two new decisions involving McGuirk and the University of New South Wales (see earlier blog) are primarily about issues concerning advance deposits. It’s one all here, but……both decisions are being appealed.

In McGuirk v University of NSW (2006) NSWADT 256 the Tribunal decided that the policy statement in the Premiers Department FOI Procedure Manual that “advance deposits will be used only with large scale requests involving significant charges” did not prevent the University seeking an advance deposit where the request was not large and the charges were relatively small. It said this outcome was because in all the circumstances (particularly “the burden placed on the University of the various applications that Mr. McGuirk has made under the FOI Act”) this was a reasonable exercise of the discretion to seek an advance deposit under Section 21 of the Act. The Tribunal also affirmed the decision to refuse access to some documents on grounds of legal professional privilege.

In McGuirk v University of NSW (2006) NSWADT 258 the Tribunal set aside a University decision to impose an advance deposit of $660 and substituted a requirement to pay $270.

In another decision McGuirk v Attorney General’s Department (2006) NSWADT 265 concerning documents relating to the University's legal advice and representation, the Tribunal upheld exemption claims concerning legal professional privilege, rejecting claims that they had been brought into existence for an improper purpose, which if shown, would constitute waiver of privilege.

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