The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled against the MoJ because it failed to provide a response to a family law data request.
The ICO’s decision notice states that the unnamed complainant requested information relating to statistical data about court orders made in the Family Court together with information about domestic violence and child protection matters. The ICO added that by the date of its notice, 9 March 2017, the MoJ had yet to provide a substantive response to this request.
As a result, the Commissioner’s decision was that the MoJ has breached section 10(1) of the FOIA in that it failed to provide a response to the request within the statutory timeframe of 20 working days. The Commissioner required the MoJ to comply with the request or issue a valid refusal notice as set out in section 17 of the FOIA within 35 calendar days of the date of the decision notice.
Family law solicitor and arbitrator, Tony Roe, made a series of FoI requests of the MoJ in 2014/15 about divorce centres. His research broke the news that Bury St Edmunds (BSE) would be the single divorce centre for the London & the South East. He comments:
'It is rather worrying that the MoJ has had to be brought to task over this issue. The MoJ’s breach flies in the face of the much-heralded transparency initiative of the President of the Family Division.
It is also concerning that the ICO noted that the delay in responding to this request will be logged as part of its ongoing monitoring of the MoJ’s compliance with the FOIA'.
Click here to read the full decision.