Timely communications within institutions required to safeguard access rights

Complaint: The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal told a requester it could not provide a copy of a consultant’s report because it had returned it to the Attorney General.

Investigation: The OIC learned that the corporate side of the institution, which includes the access office and operates relatively independently from the Tribunal Registry, informed the Registry of the request the day after it had sent back the report.

Outcome: Since the report was physically located in the Registry at the time of the request, it was under the control of the institution, which consequently had a legal obligation to process it.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • When an institution receives a request for a record in its possession, it cannot claim that the record is not under its control.
  • This case highlights the importance of timely communication about requests to safeguard requesters’ rights.
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