Appendix A: Recommendations

chapter 8 – The public interest test

R32The requirement to consider the public interest in making information available should continue to be a feature of the OIA and LGOIMA. This should be made more prominent by redrafting section 9 of the OIA and section 7 of the LGOIMA along the following lines:

Non-conclusive reasons for withholding official information

(1)Good reason for withholding official information exists where both (a) and (b) are met:

(a)Subsection (2) applies; and

(b)The withholding of the information is not outweighed by other considerations which render it desirable, in the public interest, to make that information available.

R33The term “public interest” should not be statutorily defined or limited by a list of factors to be taken into account. Instead, the Ombudsmen’s Guidelines should provide clear examples of previous cases in which the public interest in disclosure has, and has not, been sufficient to justify overriding a withholding ground.

R34The oversight office should monitor how agencies are considering the public interest as part of the decision to withhold or release requested information under section 9 of the OIA or section 7 of the LGOIMA.