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Mr Q and Adoption Authority of Ireland (FOI Act 2014)

Case Number: 160014

Whether the Authority was justified in its decision to refuse the applicant, an adopted person, access to his original birth certificate on the ground that the record is excluded from the scope of the FOI Act under Schedule 1, Part 1(a).

Conducted in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act by Stephen Rafferty, Senior Investigator, who is authorised by the Information Commissioner to conduct this review

Background

On 28 August 2015, the applicant made a request to the Authority for a copy of his original birth certificate and his adoption file. The Authority refused the applicant's request on the ground that the FOI Act does not apply to adoption records held by the Authority. On 10 September, the applicant sought an internal review of the Authority's decision to refuse access to his birth certificate. On 1 October 2015, the Authority affirmed its original decision. The applicant sought a review by this Office of the Authority's decision on 8 January 2016.

I have decided to conclude this review by way of a formal, binding decision. In conducting my review, I have had regard to the correspondence between the Authority and the applicant, as set out above. I have also had regard to the communications between this Office and the applicant, and between this Office and the Authority.

 

Scope of Review

This review is concerned solely with whether the Authority was justified in its decision to refuse the applicant's request for a copy of his original birth certificate.

 

Analysis and Findings

Section 6(2)(a) of the FOI Act provides that an entity specified in Schedule 1, Part 1 of the Act shall, subject to the provisions of that Part, be a public body for the purposes of the Act. Schedule 1, Part 1 contains details of bodies that are partially included for the purposes of the Act and also details of the certain specified records that are excluded. If the records sought come within the description of the exclusions in Part 1, then the Act does not apply and no right of access exists. Part 1(a) provides that the Authority is not a public body for the purposes of the Act, in so far as it relates to records concerning, or arising from, the making of an adoption order or the recognition of an intercountry adoption effected outside the State, within the meaning of the Adoption Act 2010.

The Adoption Act 2010 defines "adoption order" as an order for the adoption of a child made (a) before the establishment day, by An Bord Uchtála under the Adoption Acts, or (b) on or after the establishment day, by the Authority under this Act. The establishment day is 1 November 2010. The Authority took over the functions of An Bord Uchtála on that date.

In its submission to this Office, the Authority stated that the applicant's original birth certificate was forwarded to it from the relevant adoption body for the purpose of making an adoption order in respect of the applicant. It stated that the original birth certificate is consulted by the Authority during the processing of an adoption application in order to ensure that a number of legal requirements, necessary for the making of an adoption order, have been met. After the adoption has been processed the adopted person's original birth certificate is stored in his/her adoption file with other documents relating to the granting of the adoption order.

Having considered the Authority's submission, I accept that the applicant's original birth certificate is a record concerning the making of an adoption order within the meaning of the Adoption Act 2010 and is therefore excluded from the scope of the FOI Act under Schedule 1, Part 1(a). I find, therefore, that the Authority was justified in its decision to refuse the applicant's request in accordance with Schedule 1, Part 1(a).

 

Decision

Having carried out a review under section 22(2) of the FOI Act, I hereby affirm the decision of the Authority in this case.

 

Right of Appeal

Section 24 of the FOI Act sets out detailed provisions for an appeal to the High Court by a party to a review, or any other person affected by the decision. In summary, such an appeal, normally on a point of law, must be initiated not later than four weeks after notice of the decision was given to the person bringing the appeal.

 

 

Stephen Rafferty,
Senior Investigator