Exemption Provisions

Exemption Provisions to withhold or redact records:

 The exemption provisions under which records can be withheld or redacted are provided under sections 28-41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014. Those that apply to DCU are where release of the record(s) in question would: 

29.   Expose the deliberative process of DCU in a manner that is contrary to the public interest;  

30.   Prejudice tests/audits, adversely affect management, or disclose a negotiating position;  

31.   Breach legal privilege or amount to contempt of court; 

32.   Prejudice or impair law enforcement or public safety

35.   Expose information obtained in confidence in a manner that would prejudice the continued provision of information to DCU by the same person or other persons where it is important that DCU continues to receive such information, or where disclosure would breach an existing confidentiality agreement;

36.   Expose commercially sensitive information that would result in a material financial loss or gain to the person to whom the information relates, or which could prejudice the competitive position of that person in the conduct of their profession, business, or occupation;            

37.   Disclose personal information;       

39.   Disadvantage ongoing research or prejudice the wellbeing of cultural, heritage or natural resources, or the habitat of a species;

40.   Result in an unwarranted benefit or loss to a person or class of persons’ financial and economic interests; or

41.   Contravene an EU law or another Act of the Oireachtas. 

Where an exemption can be applied to a record or records, the choice rests with DCU whether or not to apply that exemption where sections 29 (deliberative process), 30 (negotiating position), 32 (law enforcement and public safety), 39 (research and natural resources), and 40 (financial and economic interests) apply.

By contrast, an exemption must be applied where sections 31 (legal privilege), 35 (information obtained in confidence), 36 (commercially sensitive information), 37 (personal information) or 41 (EU law or other Act) apply.

With the exceptions of sections 31 (legal privilege) and 41 (EU law or other Act), all exemption provisions require the application of something called a ‘public interest test’ (PIT). This is where the benefits of releasing the records against the potential harms that could reasonably be expected to result have to be balanced. It is necessary to provide enough detail to make the PIT reasonable, specific, and transparent. This is something the Freedom of Information Office will undertake. Any PITs that are required will be detailed in the decision letter to the submitter.