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  • Complaint that notice of meeting did not comply with LGOIMA provisions and meeting minutes were not a true and correct record

    Case notes
    Member of public concerned that notice of meeting did not comply with relevant LGOIMA provisions and minutes of meeting were not a true and correct record—Ombudsman satisfied that meeting notified correctly—Ombudsman formed view that allowing one member of public to address subcommittee did not amount to a public forum and printing resolution on agenda was not sufficient to meet requirements of s 48(4)(a)—Council agreed to amend minutes and take steps to ensure staff aware of legal requirements
  • Request for bioequivalence studies and dissolution data

    Case notes
    Not a trade secret but the data is subject to an obligation of confidence—risk of disclosure to competitors would make drug suppliers less likely to enter the New Zealand market—s 9(2)(ba)(ii) applies
  • Report on a complaint against the Southern Institute of Technology by six former students

    Systemic investigations
    In December 2002 I received a complaint by six former students of the Southern Institute of Technology, (the Institute), who in 1999 had been enrolled in the National Certificate in Social Services programme conducted by it.
  • Transfer of request for information on Bill from Ministry of Justice to Associate Minister

    Case notes
    Researcher complained that transfer had the effect of narrowing the scope of his request— complaint reviewed under OA—information ‘more closely connected’ to functions of Associate Minister—decision to transfer request was reasonable
  • Transfer of request from Tertiary Education Commission to Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)

    Case notes
    Minister had instructed Commission to transfer all requests regarding a training centre for his consideration—OIA does not provide for blanket policy to transfer all requests on a subject— Commission must consider requests on case by case basis—information in this case not more closely related to functions of Associate Minister—decision to transfer request contrary to law
  • Request for performance reviews of ACC third-tier managers

    Case notes
    Request for performance review information of two ACC employees holding third-tier management positions—s 9(2)(a) applied—requester believed ACC granted bonuses to employees who exited claimants from ACC scheme—public interest in release of generic information about ACC performance management process
  • Request for public submissions made on a discussion document

    Case notes
    Request for copies of submissions made to Department of Conservation on a discussion document—submissions released with identities of authors deleted under s 9(2)(a)— no reference to possible release in discussion document—authors were a mix of individuals, government officials and organisations—identities of those making submissions on behalf of organisations and government officials released as not made on personal basis—individuals consulted—identities of those who consented to disclosure were released—s 9(2)(a) applied to remaining information—no public interest favouring release
  • Requests for tape and transcript of pilot communications to air traffic control

    Case notes
    Media requests for tape and transcript of pilot communications to Christchurch Air Traffic Control prior to crash—class exemption sought—also withheld to protect obligation of confidence—s 9(2)(ba)—release would not breach Chicago convention or any contracts with air traffic controllers—recommendation that information be released
  • Request for information contained in tender documents for upgrade of New Zealand’s Orion aircraft

    Case notes
    Requester sought information contained in the tender documents for the upgrade of New Zealand’s Orion aircraft—information contained details of the proposed functional upgrade of the aircraft—release would allow an informed reader to be aware of their resultant capabilities
  • Request by charitable trust for its compliance file held by Department of Internal Affairs

    Case notes
    Request by charitable trust for its compliance file held by Department of Internal Affairs—information about trust provided to Department by informant in confidence and an investigation underway—Part 4 of OIA applies as request by body corporate for personal information about itself—release of the information would prejudice the Department’s current investigation and its ability to effectively carry out its role in maintaining the law in the future—s 27(1)(a) and s 6(c) applied
  • Request to Board of Trustees for 15 year old daughter’s statements alleging sexual harassment by teacher aide

    Case notes
    Mother’s request to Board of Trustees for 15 year old daughter’s statements alleging sexual harassment by teacher aide—daughter provided statement to school in confidence—refused consent to release—public interest in ensuring students willing to supply similar information to school in future—good reason to withhold under s 9(2)(ba)(i)
  • Decision to transfer OIA request based on identity of requester

    Case notes
    Request for official information specifically held by Ministry of Education—Ministry transferred request to Minister of Education on the basis that the information was more closely connected to the functions of that Minister—request specifically for information held by Secretary and Ministry officials—Ministry advised Chief Ombudsman that decision to transfer based on a directive that all media requests should be transferred to Minister for reply—not sufficient grounds for transfer under s 14(b)(ii)—complaint sustained—Ministry reviewed its processes for transferring requests
  • Transfer of media request from Ministry of Education to Minister

    Case notes
    Requested information not more closely connected with the Minister’s functions—blanket policy to transfer all media requests to Minister unlawful
  • Charge for provision of information regarding trade negotiations

    Case notes
    Request for information on current GATS round—charge levied—GATS a matter of substantial public interest—information sought for research which would ultimately be made publicly available—release would promote informed public debate—charge found to be unreasonable—recommendation to waive charge accepted
  • Report on the actions of the Department of Labour in regard to an Official Information Act complaint

    Systemic investigations
  • Inland Revenue’s policy and procedures deficient in case of child support repayments

    Case notes
    IRD reviewed child support payments for liable parent resulting in $180 per month increase backdated 3 months—parent advised he could not pay arrears in lump sum and sought payment in instalments—IRD agreed—custodial parent complained to Ombudsman—Ombudsman reviewed instalment policy—IRD’s decision made in accordance with policy—however policy did not require full disclosure or scrutiny of liable parent’s financial situation—Ombudsman of view decision in this case not unreasonable as followed policy, but policy and procedures deficient and unreasonable—IRD agreed to review policy and procedures
  • Technical Institute required to amend student records when course cancelled

    Case notes
    Students enrolled in a two stage course to obtain a Certificate of Security were informed the second half was cancelled shortly before it was to commence—Technical Institute explored various options including notifying on the relevant academic records that students had ‘withdrawn’—students complained notation, course cancellation and lack of certification was unreasonable—Institute explained to Ombudsman that certificate registration was in train, the timing of the tutor’s resignation left it with few options but it was willing to explore these with students—Institute acknowledged it cancelled the course but current system did not have ‘cancellation of course’ as an option—Institute willing to review system and remove course from student records—Ombudsman satisfied that Institute acted reasonably to provide students with other options, certificates forthcoming and removing course from records would resolve complaint
  • School Board of Trustees and Principal’s decision to suspend student not consistent with principles of natural justice

    Case notes
    Suspended student’s parents complained about the conduct of his suspension—Ombudsman’s jurisdiction confined to the process followed by the Board—parties disputed duration of Principal’s interview with student, ability of Principal to contact parents about suspension and comments allegedly made to the student by the Principal during the interview—Ombudsman’s investigation unable to resolve these issues and no determination as to reasonableness of Board’s actions able to be made—Ombudsman satisfied that Principal’s request for student to write down his account of incident in accordance with principles of natural justice—however Ombudsman found Board acted unreasonably by dismissing parents’ concerns about Principal’s decision to interview student in absence of parents—Board acknowledged Principal’s decision not consistent with principles of natural justice and agreed to review its ‘Interviewing of Students’ policy—no formal recommendation made
  • Request for Crown Law advice given to Abortion Supervisory Committee

    Case notes
    Request for Crown Law advice given to Abortion Supervisory Committee—advice given orally and not reduced to writing—no recollection of substance of advice by either party—ASC agreed to reduce to writing its staff member’s recollection of the matters discussed during review and provide this to the requester—Chief Ombudsman satisfied all relevant information had been provided to requester
  • ACC delay to obtain opinion from Crown Solicitor unreasonable

    Case notes
    A 17 month delay by ACC in deciding whether to prosecute claimant for fraud but this delay due to 16 month delay by Crown Solicitor in providing ACC with written legal opinion — Ombudsman unable to investigate actions of Crown Solicitor but could consider how ACC dealt with the delay—three emails by ACC sent in 13 month period, then a formal request sent in writing for legal opinion—no agreed timeframes for when advice could be expected and Ombudsman of view that it was unreasonable for ACC to wait 14 months before formally raising concerns about the delay with the Crown Solicitor—ACC apologised to complainant and agreement reached between ACC and Crown Solicitor that legal opinions will be provided within 21 days of receipt of request
  • Ministry of Health reconsiders decision to charge for collation of information

    Case notes
    Requester sought draft and final copies of public health contracts for four financial years between Ministry of Health and 42 providers—Ministry agreed to release but subject to charge of $24,000—Ombudsman sought basis for charge—request for vast amount of information requiring substantial collation—charge applied in accordance with Ministry of Justice Charging Guidelines—however, Ministry had previously released part of requested information to an MP free of charge—Ombudsman did not consider it reasonable now to charge member of public for same information—Ministry agreed to review decision and release that particular information again free of charge and assist requester to refine request for outstanding information
  • Council agrees to provide building consent at no cost

    Case notes
    Couple’s spouting on outbuilding needed to be replaced—City Council advised that a building consent was required—complaint made that this was unreasonable—officials met onsite to examine outbuilding and property—an already approved storm water drain was identified and Council agreed to issue building consent at no cost to couple—complaint resolved
  • Councils cannot act without proper authority regarding water usage charges

    Case notes
    Council installed water meter on landowner’s property so that water charges would be based on quantity used rather than flat domestic rate—owner complained that he was not consulted and there was no evidence that he was using water indiscriminately—Ombudsman reviewed legislation empowering Council to impose charges—legislation required Council resolutions – none passed—Council acted without proper authority—levies refunded and domestic rate reinstated
  • ACC required to contribute towards client’s travel costs to attend hearing

    Case notes
    ACC client had difficulties with Individual Rehabilitation Plan and case manager—weekly earnings stopped—client sought review and later appealed decision to District Court but before hearing took place client moved to another town and had new IRP and case manager, and the earnings were reinstated—the client chose to continue with appeal in District Court but the appeal was unsuccessful—ACC refused to reimburse client for travel expenses but Ombudsman held this decision unreasonable
  • Councils advised to keep information for resource consents until all appeals exhausted

    Case notes
    Grape grower sought transparencies used in Council hearing for resource consent—Council had destroyed transparencies in accordance with 15 year practice on basis that the information was generic—Council created new transparencies with same information—grape grower alleged the information was not the same as on the originals—Ombudsman unable to compare the two —Council agreed to change practice and retain information used in hearings until all appeals exhausted
  • Request for offender’s photo on police file

    Case notes
    Rape victim sought photograph of attacker whose face she had never seen—Police refused the request to protect the privacy of the offender—s 9(2)(a) applied—public interest in assisting victims of crime to recover from trauma and move on with their lives—balance of competing privacy and public interest considerations needed to be made—appropriate to make photograph available for viewing subject to appropriate conditions
  • Request for qualifications and work history of staff at Polytechnic Department

    Case notes
    Request for details about staff at Polytechnic—withheld under s 9(2)(a) to protect privacy—public interest in ensuring employment practices of Polytechnic are transparent and fair—met by summary release of staff details and selection process
  • Request for copy of competitor’s licence deed

    Case notes
    Ferry service operator requested copy of competitor’s licence deed from ferry terminal facility owner—request refused under s 7(2)(b)(ii) LGOIMA on basis release would prejudice commercial position of licensee—licensee argued that it had originally negotiated licence in atmosphere of complete commercial confidentiality with then port authority at a time when neither party was subject to LGOIMA—Ombudsman considered s 8 LGOIMA and s 75 Local Government Act 2002—neither Act contains transitional or saving provisions concerning information held by private bodies that later become subject to this legislation—request for such information should therefore be considered in same way as any other LGOIMA request—Ombudsman found no commercial prejudice likely and strong public interest in release—facility owner released information.
  • Request for ACC notice board bulletin

    Case notes
    Requester sought a copy of ACC notice board bulletin - bulletin contains commentary and advice on various court decisions - prepared by practising solicitor in his professional capacity - purpose is to give general legal advice to case managers who routinely request and rely upon it - refused under s 9(2)(h) - legal professional privilege applies - no waiver even though it was distributed widely amongst ACC staff - marked confidential and subject to privilege - no public interest in release that outweighed strong public interest in ensuring privilege is maintained.
  • Request for names and email addresses of people consulted on draft speech

    Case notes
    Recipients and senders of emails consulted—disclosure would not inhibit senior public servants from expressing free and frank opinions in future—however others would be inhibited
  • Delays by Te Puni Kōkiri in responding to requests from opposition researcher

    Case notes
    Blanket policy to consult Minister on all OIA requests unlawful—Ministerial ‘clearance’ or ‘approval’ of agency OIA requests not permitted
  • OIA request extension notified outside time limit

    Case notes
    Request for large amount of information relating to tobacco control—extension to time limit for responding to request required—extension notified outside time limit in s 15A—deemed a refusal—no further investigation required as decision on request pending