Dear Department of Justice (Northern Ireland),

I would be grateful if you could advise if any of your ALB's or NDPB's have been affected by the 16th May 2019 judgement of Madam Justice McBride, whereupon it was found that for certain decisions the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland had no power to delegate responsibility to discharge statutory powers to staff.
If any have been affected, I would ask that you;

(i) list the names of NPDBs or ALBs affected
(ii) what changes if any have been made to those NDPBs or ALBs affected, and the date these changes were implemented.
(iii) if none were affected, please state so.

Yours faithfully,

Trevor McKee

ProbityaacNI

DOJ FOI Mailbox, Department of Justice (Northern Ireland)

Dear Sir,

 

Thank you for your request for information as detailed below.

 

Your request was received on 6^th September 2019 and will be dealt with
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

 

The Department of Justice will endeavour to respond to your request within
the timescales stipulated by the Freedom of Information Act and no later
than 4^th October 2019

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

DOJ Records & Information Team

 

 

 

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DOJ FOI Mailbox, Department of Justice (Northern Ireland)

1 Attachment

Dear Sir,

With reference to your request below, please see attached response.

Regards

DoJ Records & Information Team

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Dear Department of Justice (Northern Ireland),

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department of Justice (Northern Ireland)'s handling of my FOI request 'Affected Bodies'.

Thank you for your response. I understand that Section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is a qualified exemption subject to a public interest test, and that it is not immediately evident from what you have stated so far how it might potentially apply. However I can deal with that in the fullness of time if it becomes relevant.

What is immediately relevant is the research the DSO is undertaking, and the length of time that has passed since this purported risk first became apparent.
As you know the DFC became a third party intervener in the matter ruled on by Madam Justice McBride citing the reason you have given on the 29th November 2017.
The research into the departments and presumably your own NDPB's was completed for that litigation and no risk was found to exist. In any event, the research necessary could be conducted and completed in one day, it is a reasonably straightforward process, requiring little skill or knowledge.

For example, in the Libraries Board subject to the "Libraries Act (Northern Ireland) 2008" and contained within article 9 (1) of schedule 1 to that act (reproduced below), we can see that there is a power of delegation to staff.

"Delegation to committees and staff
9—(1) The Authority may, to such extent as it may determine, delegate any of its functions to—
(a)
any committee of the Authority;
(b)
any employee of the Authority.
(2) Any committee of the Authority may, to such extent as the committee may determine, delegate any functions of the committee to any employee of the Authority."

It would appear that there is no further body of research to conduct, it has all been completed within the litigation completed on the 16th May. It appears that there are no other bodies affected by the decision of the High Court, and no other NDPB's acting outside of their powers.
If this is the case, then any exemption applied to releasing the information would attract a strong public interest challenge sufficient to warrant disclosure of the information, simply because of the vast amounts of public money being invested in litigation.
In addition, I would also respectfully advise that if requests and exchanges are continuing within the departments NDPB's and other Government departments and their NDPB's, then I submit the information cannot lawfully be described as privileged.
However we know for instance with at least 2 other departments that work has been completed and they had no issue in confirming my investigations were correct.
It is further surprising that your answer is not yet available given the inordinate amount of time that has passed since the querying of the departments began. It is also surprising that the DSO are communicating the same coordinated message to all departments about the same lawful request.

I am content for you to treat this request as a normal line of business inquiry if you so agree, in which case section 42 will not apply in any event. I would also submit that given the litigation in prospect, you may wish to escalate this request to the Permanent Secretary for his oversight.

Yours faithfully,

Trevor McKee

ProbityaacNI

DOJ FOI Mailbox, Department of Justice (Northern Ireland)

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    IR 19 4 FOI 19 65 McKee Charity Commission Judgement IR response....pdf

    212K Download View as HTML

Dear Sir,

With reference to your request below, please see attached response.

Regards

Chris

Chris Eccles
Records & Information Management Team
Department of Justice
[DOJNI request email]
Tel: (028) 90378716
Ext: 88716

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