Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

ADT FOI decision: advance deposit

Another decision by the ADT in a long line of applications brought by the same FOI applicant, (McGuirk v University of NSW (2006) NSWADT 81) the Tribunal upheld the agency’s decision to ask for an advance deposit, and decided that the amount requested was reasonable.

The Tribunal noted that the Premier’s Department FOI Procedure Manual 2.14.6 states as a matter of “policy” advance deposits will be used only with large scale requests involving significant charges. It decided that despite the fact that the introduction to the manual states that “policy” is to be observed by agencies, the provision could only be a guideline as Section 21 of the FOI Act confers a discretion - an agency may request an advance deposit. This meant that it was open to an agency to ask for a reasonable amount by way of advance deposit where in the circumstances it felt this was appropriate. It did not need to demonstrate that the application was a "large scale" request.

The Tribunal also considered whether the University decision to refuse a rebate of fees was justified. It upheld the refusal to grant a rebate which had been sought on public interest grounds. The Tribunal said that in order to demonstrate that the public interest justifies the reduction in charges "there must be a public interest in the release of the particular documents that are the subject of the application". It was not sufficient to claim that a "general public interest in the University's conduct being made known to the people of the state of NSW".

No comments:

Post a Comment