PATI: ICO Decision On Health Council & BDA

December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez issued Decision 27/2019 and Decision 28/2019 relating to the Bermuda Health Council and the Bermuda Business Development Agency [BDA], respectively.

  • Decision 27/2019, Bermuda Health Council [PDF]
  • Decision 28/2019, Bermuda Business Development Agency [PDF]

A spokesperson said, “On 25 November 2019, Information Commissioner Gitanjali Gutierrez issued Decision 27/2019 and Decision 28/2019 relating to the Bermuda Health Council [Health Council] and the Bermuda Business Development Agency [BDA], respectively.

“In Decision 27/2019, the Information Commissioner considered the Bermuda Health Council’s decision to refuse a PATI request for records relating to communications between the Health Council and the Chief Medical Officer regarding two physicians.

“With respect to one of the physicians, the Health Council maintained that no records existed [section 16[1][a]]. The Information Commissioner affirmed the Health Council’s reliance on this administrative refusal as she was satisfied that the Health Council had conducted a reasonable search for records in accordance with section 12 of the PATI Act and had provided sufficient evidence of its searches in accordance with regulation 5 of the PATI Regulations.

“The Health Council provided the ICO with seven withheld records. The Information Commissioner found that the Health Council was correct to withhold six of the records under section 37 of the PATI Act because their disclosure is prohibited by other legislation.

“The other legislation is section 18 of the Bermuda Health Council Act 2004, which requires confidentiality for records related to the affairs of the Health Council unless disclosure is necessary for the performance of the Health Council’s functions. The Information Commissioner concluded that none of the Health Council’s functions listed in section 5 of the Health Council Act required disclosure of the records.

“With regard to the one record that did not fall within section 37, the Information Commissioner considered the Health Council’s reliance on the exemptions under the PATI Act for operations of a public authority [section 30], commercial interests [section 25] and information received in confidence [section 26]. The Information Commissioner found that the Health Council did not justify its reliance on these exemptions and she ordered the Health Council to disclose that record.

“Decision 28/2019 concerns the BDA’s failure to conduct an internal review and to issue an internal review decision within the timeframe set forth in section 43[2] of the PATI Act. Since the BDA issued an internal review decision during the Information Commissioner’s review, the BDA was not ordered to take further action in relation to the internal review request.

“In Decision 28/2019, the Information Commissioner also addressed the procedure for third party notifications at the internal review stage. As stated by the Information Commissioner, “the BDA was correct to point out that it may be in the interest of fairness for a public authority to notify a third party and invite their submissions at the internal review stage, even though section 39 of the PATI Act does not require public authorities to do so. When it chooses to notify a third party at that stage, however, the public authority is still required to issue an internal review decision within the six week timeframe set out in the PATI Act.”

“Full versions of both decisions can be accessed online at www.ico.bm.”

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