Henderson and Legal Practice Committee
(310322, 30 November 2011)
Section 17 RTI Act – Entity to which this Act does not apply
Schedule 2, part 2, item 6 – Quasi-judicial entity in relation to its quasi-judicial functions
The applicant applied to the Legal Practice Committee (LPC) for five categories of documents about a complaint and subsequent disciplinary hearing which the applicant says occurred in 2009 (Access Application).
The LPC did not respond to the Access Application and the applicant subsequently applied to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) for external review.
Under by the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld) the LPC has a disciplinary function in which it hears and decides specific types of discipline applications lodged with it by the Legal Services Commissioner. The RTI Commissioner was satisfied that LPC’s disciplinary function is a quasi-judicial function because the LPC can make decisions that affect an individual’s rights and the LPC has the following characteristics of a quasi-judicial body:
· 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.
Section 94(1)(a) RTI Act - Application lacking in substance
In view of the above findings, the RTI Commissioner decided not to further deal with the applicant’s external review application on the basis that it was lacking substance.