Dear Legal Aid Agency,
In March 2003 seven litigant children and their families from the MMR litigation flew to America to undergo lumbar punctures at a facility in Michigan as part of their legal case in the group action.
Under the FOIA 2000, please confirm whether or not the LSC (predecessor to the LAA) (a) agreed to this (b) funded it, and (c) provide details of how much it cost in total.
Dear Angus Files ,
Thank you for your request for information which we received 01/02/2019.
Your request has been passed to me as I have responsibility for
information held by the Legal Aid Agency.
I will respond no later than the statutory deadline of 01/03/2019.
Please do not hesitate to contact us at
[email address] if you have any questions.
Please ensure you quote our reference FOI/190201008 in any future
Information Governance Team
Dear Mr Files
Please find attached a response to your recent FOIA request.
Information Governance | Corporate Centre | 102 Petty France, London, SW1H
Dear Information Governance (LAA),
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request – 190201008
Thank you for your response to this FOIA request. I note that you have stated that ..............
"In this instance to determine if al of the information requested is held we would be required
to search through al of the matters funded under the heading of ‘MMR litigation’, total ing
some 1,300 certificates. We would then need to analyse al of the disbursements authorised
in each to determine whether any of these included the expenses you have enquired about.
This would exceed the appropriate limit. Consequently, we are not obliged to comply with
The Lord Chancellors Code of Practice on the management of records states that……….
5.1 (a) Authorities should have in place organisational arrangements that support record management
(d) Authorities should keep their records in systems that enable records to be stored and retrieved as necessary
(e) Authorities should know what records they hold and where they are, and should ensure that they remain usable for as long as they are required.
9.3 Record systems should have the following characteristics:
(b) They should enable quick and easy retrieval of information.
Please explain why it is that the Legal Aid Agency (Formerly LSC) do not have a records system in place which would allow for the information to be retrieved quickly and easily so as not to use up the allocated FOIA allowance in searching "all of the matters funded under the heading of 'MMR litigation'".
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Information Governance team and we will process it in due course.
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Dear Mr Files
Thank you for your email below. I should firstly clarify that the FOIA obliges public authorities to provide recorded information, save for where an exemption applies. As we explained to you, the steps required to identify the information enquired about (if held) would take longer than the relevant FOIA cost limit, and as such we were not obliged to comply with your request. If you wish to seek an Internal Review of this decision, you may do so by confirming this by return, as was made clear in our response to you.
For the avoidance of doubt, your request asked whether legal aid had been used to fly seven claimants to the United States for medical treatment. You did not include information such as the names or other identifying features of those individuals.
Information about 'disbursements' (which is what such an expense would be classed as) paid in connection with a legal aid claim would be held on the file for that particular matter. The cases your request concerns are now quite historic, and relate to a time when civil legal aid was managed on paper as opposed to electronically. We explained that cases concerned with MMR litigation were grouped together. However, you have not given us sufficient information to perform any kind of targeted search of these. The only option therefore remaining was to search all of the files which could potentially hold this information, which as we explained would take too long for the purposes of the Act.
The FOIA obliges public authorities to provide advice to assist requesters to refine their enquiries where this is necessary. To this end, we suggested that you may wish to provide additional parameters to better facilitate your request, however to date you have not done so.
You may be interested to know that civil legal aid is now managed on a computerised system, which can therefore be electronically queried to assist with FOIA requests. Clearly different practical considerations will apply to an event which took place in 2003.
I hope this email clarifies the position. This reply in response to your specific questions does not affect your right to seek an Internal Review if you continue to be dissatisfied, which would be carried out by a team who were not involved with drafting the original reply to your request.
Information Governance | Corporate Centre | 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ
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