The Office of the Information Commissioner ruled that a case FIE had taken against the Attorney General was ‘settled' when late into the appeal process the document was released. While provision for settlement exists in the Freedom of Information legislation, the Access to Information legislation requires a decision once a case is begun regardless of the release of the information.

FIE believes that in many cases, such as this one, [there were 55 cases settled under FoI this way last year and 2 under Access] the body holding the information knows from the first that they have no grounds to withhold a document but the information is of such sensitivity that they chose to refuse to release it, knowing that most applicants would neither use the internal appeal method or even less pay €150 to have an administrative review. In the unlikely event that an applicant would do so they could then release it without censure for their sustained refusal as a ‘settlement' is reached.

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