Irish Information Commissioner's decision overturned by High Court

The Irish Information Commissioner, Emily O'Reilly, has had a decision overturned by the High Court in Ireland. The case concerned the Commissioner's decision to direct South Western Area Health Board to release edited versions of records to a woman concerning her adoption over 40 years ago.

The woman had attempted to trace her natural mother but her mother did not want to be contacted. The mother had been assured by the Health Board that her records would be kept confidential. The Health Board felt that it was bound by these assurances of confidentiality and therefore could not disclose the information. However, the Information Commissioner had directed that the records should be released in edited form, records which included medical information. The decision was appealed to the High Court under the Irish Freedom of Information Act.

The High Court found that the Commissioner had made a value judgement about the extent of the invasion of the mother's rights without giving her the right to make representations. This was held to be procedurally unfair. (Radio Telef√≠s √Čireann website, 31 May 2005)