Key published decisions applying Section 42(1)(a) FOI Act
The applicants sought review of the Department of Tourism, Small Business and Industry's (Department) decision to disclose letters of complaint written by the applicant, to the Department's Liquor Licensing Division (LLD). 
The applicants submitted that the letters were exempt under section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act, as the investigation into the activities of the subject of their complaints would be prejudiced by the disclosure. They asserted that if the details of the complaint were revealed then the relevant parties would have sufficient notice to be able to 'cover their tracks'. 
The Department submitted that as the investigations were close to finalisation and the subject of the complaint had been made aware of the allegations, the exemption did not apply. 
The Information Commissioner found that even if an investigation was still under way, disclosing the relevant matter could not reasonably be expected to prejudice the investigation, as the subject had been made aware of the complaints. Therefore, the matter did not qualify for exemption under section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act. 
The applicant sought review of a decision by the Queensland Police Service (QPS), to refuse documents concerning him under section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner found that the relevant matter was exempt from disclosure under section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act as it related to offences allegedly committed by the applicant, in respect of which the QPS had not yet laid charges.
The applicant was an officer of the Department of Environment (Department) and sought review of a decision by the Department to refuse access to a letter from the Crown Solicitor to the Department under section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act. 
The letter arose from a complaint by an electricity corporation in relation to work undertaken by the applicant, acting in his personal capacity while on leave from the Department. [6,7]
The Information Commissioner was not satisfied that disclosing the document, which merely confirmed information previously disclosed by the Department, could reasonably be expected to have any of the prejudicial consequences contemplated by section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act. 
The Department argued that an agency's efforts to investigate misconduct by an officer would be prejudiced if the officer could use access under the FOI Act to confirm the fact of the investigation (giving them an opportunity to destroy evidence). 
The Information Commissioner was not satisfied that any reasonable basis existed for expecting any prejudice to follow from disclosing the matter, which would only disclose information already made available to the applicant through official sources. 
Therefore, the matter was not exempt under section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act . 
The applicant was refused access by the Brisbane City Council (BCC) to documents concerning a complaint the applicant made about a dog attack. The applicant complained to the Crime Justice Commission (CJC) that his complaint to BCC was not properly handled. The CJC decided to grant the applicant access to one of the documents that BCC had initially refused access to.
BCC then lodged a 'reverse FOI' application. On external review, Information Commissioner considered BCC's initial decision to refuse access to the document and the CJC's decision to grant access. BCC asserted that the relevant matter was exempt from disclosure under section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act. [16, 53]
The Information Commissioner considered that the investigations of the applicant's allegations had been finalised, so far as BCC and the CJC were concerned. He considered that section 42(1)(a) of the FOI Act focuses on prejudice to the investigation of a possible contravention of the law in a particular case. Here, the investigation had been finalised, therefore disclosing the relevant matter could not reasonably be expected to prejudice the investigation of a contravention or possible contravention of the law. 
Last updated: April 23, 2012