CAL makes inadequate search over FOI request

| 21/03/2016 | 3 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Cayman Airways Limited (CAL) failed to respond adequately to a freedom of information request, Acting Information Commissioner Jan Liebaers found in his latest appeal decision. However, because the airline eventually made good on the request and during the process of the hearing released more documents, he ultimately dismissed the appeal by a former employee seeking records relating to his employment with CAL. Liebaers was, nevertheless, unsympathetic to claims by CAL that the search was too wide and he criticised the actions of the information manager.

In what appears to have been an acrimonious hearing between the person requesting the information and CAL, the commissioner pointed to a number of failures on the part of the airline and emphasised the need for information managers to communicate with those who make requests to clarify what they want if a request seems too broad or unspecific. In this case, which stretched out for almost a year, the documents were finally released but poor communication appears to have severely hampered the process.

Liebaers said he found no evidence, as alleged by the applicant, that CAL deliberately put obstacles in the way of the request but said significant delays were encountered. When the applicant submitted a definitive list of what he wanted, it still took the airline more than five months to locate the necessary records.

“It remains unclear to me why this new search should have taken more than five months,” the commissioner wrote in his decision. “Despite the breadth of the responsive records, the seemingly shifting nature of the request, and the significant efforts CAL made to locate responsive records, it is unsatisfactory for CAL to claim now, in the course of the Hearing before me, that the original request was too broad, in an attempt to demonstrate the reasonableness of the overall search that was conducted.”

However, the airline belatedly engaged constructively with the applicant and eventually conducted a meaningful search, which yielded additional records, and despite “the weaknesses of CAL’s initial search and the lack of detailed documentation of the search conducted”, once the hearing was underway, CAL took reasonable steps to comply with the law, Liebaers said.

“This has been a lengthy appeal, during which the ICO played an active role in ensuring that the public authority improved upon the inadequate search that was originally conducted. This has been done, and I am satisfied with the response that has now been given,” the commissioner said following the publication of his decision.

See full decision here

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    There is no reason any Government employee has to worry about what they do or how or who they do it to. Here and in other third world countries they are above the law. Once that is understood you will cease to be confused.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The story does not seem to justify the headline.

  3. Conscience says:

    CNS is this a matter in court, we already know the sloppiness in FOI retrieval a. What isnotclrar is what the request was about and the final outcome once data was provided. Is this the whole or part of the story?

    CNS: You can read more by clicking on the link to the full decision by the ICO at the bottom of the article.

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