11 February 2019 | News from the O

Ombudsman Issues Hearing Decision 66


The Ombudsman issues Hearing Decision 66, involving the Department of Labour and Pensions 

An applicant requested a variety of records from the Department of Labour and Pensions, relating to amendments made to a pension plan trust deed in 2016 and 2017.

The Department referred the bulk of the request to the pension plan administrator who disclosed a significant amount of information to the applicant (who is a member of the pension plan), as required under the National Pensions Law and Regulations. The Department refused access to communications with their legal advisors under section 17(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Law (2015 Revision) (FOI Law), and internal communications under section 20(1)(d).

The Ombudsman confirmed that the legal advice is privileged and exempted.  However, the internal communications were inconsequential and/or repeated information already known to the Applicant.  Therefore, their disclosure would not prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs, as claimed by the Department.

A small part of the request remained unanswered, and the Ombudsman directed the Department to provide a response to the Applicant within 10 days.

The Ombudsman also recommended that the Department record internal discussions, and other business and affairs, more fully in the future.

The decision can be found here.