Reports from Crown Law Office
Joshua Grainger made this Official Information request to Attorney-General
The request was successful.
From: Joshua Grainger
Dear Hon Chris Finlayson,
I would like to request under the Official Information Act the titles and dates of all reports you have received as Minister Responsible for the Crown Law Office since the beginning of 2012.
Although not required under the Official Information Act I am aware it is often useful to spell out the purpose for a request. I am aware that the Ombudsmen has previously ruled that the office of the Attorney-General is not subject to Official Information Act given its constitutional position as the senior Law Officer of the Crown (casenote W41067).
However: the Crown Law Office website clarifies that the Attorney-General has two roles (http://www.crownlaw.govt.nz/pagepub/docs...)
First: as senior law officer, and second: as a Minister of the Crown responsible for the Crown Law Office, SFO, and PCO.
It is my belief that casenote W41067 was wrongly decided, in that it should only apply to information held by the Attorney-General in the first category of his role, rather than information held by the Attorney-General as his second role. After all: it seems ridiculous that Crown Law would recognize the Attorney-General as a Minister of the Crown, but that the Ombudsmen would not.
So the purpose of my request is to test this belief.
Feel free to contact me if you want me to clarify my request.
From: C Finlayson (MIN)
On behalf of Hon Christopher Finlayson, thank you for your email. Your
correspondence has been recorded and will be noted. All mail is read and
relevant material placed in front of the Minister. If, however, you are
writing to express a personal point of view or opinion, a reply may not
always be sent.
Due to the volume of correspondence received by the office, we regret we
are unable to accept invitations via email. If you wish to invite the
Minister to a function or event, an invitation needs to be sent freepost
Hon Christopher Finlayson
Office of Hon. Christopher Finlayson
From: James Christmas (MIN)
Liam left an annotation ()
Can you please provide the outcome and response Josh?
Joshua Grainger left an annotation ()
Apologies for not updating this request sooner. My appeal to the Ombudsman was successful. The Attorney-General has acknowledged that he has two roles: that of chief law officer, and that of Minister responsible for Crown Law, the Serious Fraud Office and the Parliamentary Counsel Office. The Attorney-General is subject to the OIA when they act in the later capacity.
The actual response to the OIA can be viewed here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/265259248/OIA...
Things to do with this request
- Add an annotation (to help the requester or others)
- Download a zip file of all correspondence
Joshua Grainger left an annotation ()
I got around to lodging a complaint on the Ombudsmen around this reply. Here is what I wrote:
On the 8th of August I requested from Hon Chris Finlayson the titles and dates of all reports he had received as Minister Responsible for the Crown Law Office (MRCLO). On the 6th of September I received a response which declined my request under s18(e) on the grounds that "the record [of reports sent to him] does not not disclose whether reports were directed to him as MRCLO , as Attorney General, or both."
With respect, that is not what I asked for. I did not ask for reports that were *addressed* to the MRCLO, I asked for reports that were *received in his capacity* as MRCLO.
I, as imagine many of us do, wear a number of hats. I am friends with many of my co-workers. Yet, I can distinguish between communications I receive from my co-workers as friends in a private capacity, and communications I receive as co-workers, even if they are both merely addressed to "Joshua Grainger". I would except the Minister to be able to do the same: to be able to distinguish between reports received in different capacities, even if addressed the same. Indeed, given Mr Finlayson's multiple roles, including as Attorney-General, I would except him to be rather skilled in determining what capacity he his acting in.
In addition I wish to approach the vexed issue of reports received in a capacity both as MRCLO (OIA'ble), and as Attorney-General (not OIA'ble). I believe here the proper response is to make the document subject to the OIA, because of the principle of availability evident in s5 of the Act.
Due to this, I believe the proper practice would be to carefully analyse the reports received by Mr FInlayson for the last year, releasing the names of those that he received as MRCLO; as both MRCLO and Attorney-General; and exempting those reports received as Attorney-General alone.
All correspondence for this request can be viewed at: http://fyi.org.nz/request/reports_from_c....
(Ignore the stuff about my purpose: that came from a misunderstanding: I thought that the role of Minister Responsible for the Crown Law Office was a component role of the wider role of Attorney-General, rather than a separate role)
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