Raby Bay Ratepayers Association Inc. and Redland Shire Council; Civic Projects (Raby Bay) Pty Ltd (Third Party)
(1995 L0011, 1 December 1995)
This was a 'reverse FOI' application in which the Ratepayers Association challenged the Council's decision to give the third party access to correspondence between the Association and the Council, relating to a number of matters of concern to the Association. The Information Commissioner determined that the documents were not exempt under s.43(1), as they were not communications of a kind to which legal professional privilege might adhere. They were representations from a civic interest group to a local authority concerning civic affairs, and replies to those representations.
Applying the principles set out in B and Brisbane North Regional Health Authority(1994) 1 QAR 279, the Information Commissioner decided that the documents were not exempt under s.46(1)(a) as disclosure would not found an action for breach of confidence. In relation to one letter, marked "confidential", the Information Commissioner determined that, if action were to be taken by the Council in respect of the matter complained about, the Association must have expected that the information contained in the letter might be communicated to the third party (which was the developer of the Raby Bay Estate). The Information Commissioner found that a court would not regard disclosure to the third party as an unconscionable use of the information. As to the other correspondence sent to the Council, the Information Commissioner found that there was nothing before me which suggested it was communicated in confidence. Nor was there anything in the letters from the Council to the Association which a court would protect in an action for breach of confidence.
In relation to s.46(1)(b), the Information Commissioner determined that there was no evidence of a mutual understanding between the authors of the correspondence and officers of the Council, that any of the documents was communicated in confidence. The Information Commissioner further determined that disclosure of the documents could not reasonably be expected to prejudice the future supply of like information to the Council by civic interest groups.