Outcomes - Selected Case Summaries

Employment settlement

Freedom of Information | 30 November -0001
Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture & Housing

A request was made for the details of a settlement agreement between the government and the former Director of the Department of Environmental Health (DEH).

Although the matter related to public expenditure, and the Ombudsman agreed that public authorities should not sidestep the provisions of the FOI Law by inserting confidentiality clauses in agreements, she found that the information in the agreement was confidential and related to private negotiations between the parties, and was only known to those parties.  The information was shared in circumstances importing an obligation of confidentiality which was expressly stated in the confidentiality clause that formed part of the agreement, thereby creating a strong expectation of confidentiality.  Disclosure of the information in the agreement by either party would open them to a claim by the other party that it was unauthorized, given the explicit statement in the confidentiality clause.

The Ombudsman concluded that the disclosure of the record would constitute an actionable breach of confidence, and agreed that the agreement should be withheld.