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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Leading Barrister's views on internal working documents and public interest

Whoops - sorry our first post of this item included a link that didn't work. So here goes again.

At our recent 2006 FOI Advanced Workshop, Mark Robinson, Barrister and former Judicial Member of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, spoke about the internal working document exemption, in particular public interest factors relevant to a decision to deny access. The issue is an important one given the comments by the NSW Court of Appeal in WorkCover Authority v Law Society (2006) NSWCA 84.

A copy of the paper is here.

Mark emphasises that any claim that disclosure of an internal working document would on balance be contrary to the public interest needs to be supported by credible evidence. The Court of Appeal decision leaves open a range of circumstances where it might be appropriate to make such a claim, but removes rigid formulae or theoretical approaches from the equation.

There is yet to be any major published decision by the NSW ADT on this issue since the Court of Appeal case, and no guidance on its application has been issued to date by the Premier's Department.

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