Murphy and Queensland Treasury
(1996 S0140, 24 July 1998)
The Department claimed that a number of communications between the Department and its legal advisers (the Crown Solicitor, counsel and an in-house adviser) were subject to legal professional privilege and so exempt under s.43(1). After analysing a number of cases which considered the point, the Information Commissioner found that parts of bills for legal services and related matter, which did not disclose the substance of legal advice, were not privileged matter qualifying for exemption under s.43(1).
The Information Commissioner found that the other documents in issue were prima facie privileged, subject to consideration of the claim by the applicant that the communications had been made in preparation for, or furtherance of, an illegal or improper purpose. The Information Commissioner discussed the principles discernible from the case authorities in respect of the 'improper purpose exception' to legal professional privilege. The Information Commissioner was not satisfied that there was prima facie evidence that the other documents in issue were created in preparation for, or furtherance of, an improper or illegal purpose, and the Information Commissioner found that those documents were exempt under s.43(1) of the FOI Act.