Key published decisions applying section 17 RTI Act
The applicant applied to the Legal Practice Committee (LPC) seeking copies of documents about a complaint and subsequent disciplinary hearing conducted by the LPC. The LPC did not respond to the application, and submitted to the Office of the Information Commissioner that it was not required to process the application on the basis that it was an entity to which the Act did not apply under section 17 and schedule 2, part 2, item 6 of the RTI Act.
The RTI Commissioner considered whether the LPC was a quasi-judicial entity for the purposes of section 17 and schedule 2, part 2, item 6 of the RTI Act.
Having regard to the established definition of judicial power in Huddart Parker & Co Ltd v Moorehead1 and the analysis of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Re Farnaby2 the RTI Commissioner considered the LPC possessed the following characteristics:3
- there are at least two parties to proceedings before the LPC
- the LPC generally conducts hearings which are open to the public unless there are public interest reasons for directing otherwise
- parties before the LPC have a right to legal representation
- although the LPC is not bound by the rules of evidence, it must comply with the rules of natural justice and act as quickly, and with as little formality and technicality, as is consistent with a fair and proper consideration of justice
- the LPC has power to take evidence on oath or affirmation and to require a person to give evidence or produce documents; and
- the LPC must give the parties a copy of any order (which must also be filed in the Supreme Court) and an information notice about its final decision.
Since the documents in issue all concerned a matter which would come within the LPC’s disciplinary function, the RTI Commissioner was satisfied that the documents sought were received, or brought into existence, by the LPC in performing its quasi-judicial functions, in relation to which, the LPC is an entity to which the RTI Act does not apply.
Last updated: August 24, 2012