Lindeberg and Department of Justice and Attorney-General
Lindeberg and Department of Premier & Cabinet
(2003 F0493, 30 July 2004)
Lindeberg and Department of Justice & Attorney-General
(2004 F0247, 30 July 2004)
Cabinet matter – legal professional privilege – sufficiency of search
The applicant applied to the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG) for access to documents relating to the shredding of the Heiner Inquiry documents. The documents remaining in issue in both reviews comprised:
review no. 493/03 (DPC) —
(i) official record of a Cabinet decision, with attachment comprising —
(ii) memorandum of advice from a former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to a former Attorney-General;
review no. 247/04 (DJAG) —
(iii) letter from a former Attorney-General to a former DPP with attachments; and
(iv) electronic draft of document (ii).
Assistant Commissioner Moss decided that document (i) qualified for exemption under s.36(1)(d) of the FOI Act, document (ii) qualified for exemption under s.36(1)(a) and s.36(1)(d), and document (iv) qualified for exemption under s.36(1)(f). In making her findings, AC Moss rejected the applicant's argument that s.36(1) must be read as containing a public interest exception, and that the public interest required disclosure of documents (ii) and (iv).
AC Moss found that document (iii) comprised a confidential communication between client and legal adviser, made for the dominant purpose of seeking legal advice or professional legal assistance. It therefore attracted legal professional privilege and AC Moss found that it qualified for exemption under s.43(1) of the FOI Act.
Applying the principles stated in Re Shepherd and Department of Housing, Local Government and Planning (1994) 1 QAR 464, Assistant Information Commissioner (AC) Moss was satisfied that the searches and inquiries which both respondent agencies had conducted in an effort to locate additional documents, responsive to the terms of the applicant's FOI access applications, had been reasonable in all the circumstances of the respective cases, and that there were no reasonable grounds for believing that additional documents existed in the respondents' possession or under their control.