Ministerial notifications and the obligation to communicate decisions ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’
The requester asked for information about Police’s ‘consent to assume online identity’ process, after the issue had been the subject of media reporting. Police communicated its decision to the requester on the 20th working day after receiving it. However, the date on the response letter was day four of the 20-working day period. When requester queried this with Police, it told the requester that the date was correct, but that Police’s internal review had delayed matters.
The requester then made a complaint to the Ombudsman, specifically raising Police’s obligations to communicate a decision to them ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’.
The Ombudsman formed the final opinion that Police failed to give notice of its decision on the request to the requester as soon as reasonably practicable, as required by section 15(1)(b) of the OIA. The Ombudsman did not make any recommendations in this case, as Police informed him it had amended its ministerial notifications practice during the investigation. The Ombudsman is publishing this case note to assist other agencies with their own ministerial notification practices.
This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.