Spilsbury and Brisbane City Council; John Wilson & Partners Pty Ltd (Third Party); Environmental Resources Management (Qld) Pty Ltd (Fourth Party)
Spilsbury and Brisbane City Council
(1997 L0034, 21 December 1999)
The matter in issue comprised parts of a report (prepared by consultants engaged by the respondent) concerning alternative management strategies for Brisbane's wastewater treatment plants.
The Information Commissioner found that none of the matter in issue qualified for exemption under s.46(1)(a) of the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner considered that a clause in the consultancy agreement entered into by the consultants and the respondent, that vested in the respondent all intellectual property rights in the report, negated the consultants' assertion that a contractual obligation of confidence was owed to them by the respondent. The Information Commissioner was also satisfied that this clause, together with the nature of the professional - client relationship that existed between the consultants and the respondent, meant that the matter in issue was not subject to an equitable obligation of confidence.
The Information Commissioner also found that the report was not exempt from disclosure under either s.45(1)(b) or s.45(1)(c) of the FOI Act. The Information Commissioner did not consider that the report comprised information having a current commercial value. The Information Commissioner considered that, in any event, any such commercial value was assigned to the respondent under the consultancy agreement. In relation to the application of s.45(1)(c), the Information Commissioner found that none of the necessary elements of that exemption provision were satisfied by the report and, moreover, that there was an overriding public interest in the disclosure of the report. The Information Commissioner also found that the report did not qualify for exemption under s.45(3) of the FOI Act.