Search This Blog

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The law coincides with common sense on access to information concerning deceased child.

Neither of the parties appear to have brought this recent Victorian Court of Appeal decision to the attention of the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal that release of information concerning another's personal affairs under the freedom of information should not be considered in all cases, disclosure to the world.If accepted and applied it might have made for a more straight-forward decision to disclose information in this case.

However Judicial Member Moloney (new to the ADT FOI ranks?) in JY v Commissioner of Police[2008] NSWADT 306 still found important public interests justified disclosure to the mother of a deceased child, information(with identifying particulars deleted) held by the Police in statements about the child's death provided for coronial proceedings that never proceeded. This despite the objections of the three people concerned,the father/ex husband who was looking after the child when she died, and arguments from the Police the statements had been obtained on the basis of confidentiality.

It seems like a happy co-incidence of common sense and the law which don't always go together.

The decision however reveals yet another complexity arising from the NSW Freedom of Information Act. Judicial Member Moloney[46] had this to say about the consultation requirements prior to the release of information concerning personal affairs of the child:
"According to the ordinary understanding of the words ‘closest relative,’ a person’s closest relatives are the person’s "nearest blood relations": see Antill-Pockley v Perpetual Trustee Co Ltd [1974] HCA 52 per Gibbs J (at [5]), with whom Stephen J agreed. A child’s closest relatives are its parents. Where, however, one parent has the sole parental responsibility for the child, whether by Court order or the death of the other parent, that parent will be the child’s closest relative. In this case, there is no evidence that there were in existence Court orders relating to parental responsibility for the child. As a result I conclude that both JY and her ex-husband were the closest relatives for the purposes of section 31(5). Each of them was required to be and has been consulted."
The same reasoning would require consultation with both parents of any child, prior to disclosure of information concerning a child not capable because of age or other factors of acting independently.

No comments:

Post a Comment