McLeod and Caloundra City Council
(2001 L0026, 31 January 2002)
The applicant was a former employee of the Council who sought access to two paragraphs in a letter written to the Council by solicitors acting on behalf of another employee. The two paragraphs contained comments allegedly made about the applicant by a third employee. The solicitors who wrote the letter objected to its disclosure on the ground of legal professional privilege.
However, the letter was clearly a communication between parties to a dispute, rather than a privileged communication, and Assistant Commissioner Shoyer held that it was not exempt under s.43(1) of the FOI Act. The solicitors also sought to rely on s.44(1) of the FOI Act. However, the matter in issue merely concerned the performance by a Council employee of his duties of employment, and could not be properly characterised as information concerning the employee's ‘personal affairs’ (see Pope and Queensland Health (1994) 1 QAR 616).
The third employee objected to disclosure on the basis that the matter in issue was exempt under s.40(c) and s.40(d) of the FOI Act. Assistant Commissioner Shoyer was not satisfied that disclosure of the matter in issue could reasonably be expected to have a substantial adverse effect on the management or assessment by Council of its personnel, or on the Council's conduct of industrial relations.
Assistant Commissioner Shoyer also considered the application of s.46(1) of the FOI Act. However, he was not satisfied that disclosure of the matter in issue would found an action for breach of confidence (s.46(1)(a)), nor was it information of a confidential nature that was communicated in confidence (s.46(1)(b)).