Watkins and Department of Equity and Fair Trading
(2000 S0287, 16 August 2001)
This was a 'reverse FOI' application in which the applicant sought to prevent the FOI access applicants (the complainants) obtaining access to a letter and annexure provided to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) by the applicant in response to a complaint against her. The applicant purported to rely on s.46(1) and s.45(1)(c) of the FOI Act. The Assistant Information Commissioner was not satisfied that the circumstances attending communication to the OFT of the matter in issue were such as to fix the OFT with an equitable obligation of confidence, and found that the matter in issue did not qualify for exemption under s.46(1) of the FOI Act.
The Assistant Information Commissioner also found that the applicant had not advanced any persuasive argument that disclosure could reasonably be expected to have an adverse effect on the applicant's business, professional, commercial or financial affairs. Even if she had done so, the public interest considerations favouring disclosure to the complainants, in order to afford them a proper account of the OFT's investigation of their complaint, would have weighed decisively in favour of disclosure under the public interest balancing test incorporated in s.45(1)(c) of the FOI Act.