On July 12th, the IPC/Ontario affirmed a $5,490 fee estimate for a request that would entail retrieving e-mails from backup tapes.
Our provincial FOI legislation allows institutions to recover 100% of the “costs, including computer costs, that [an] institution incurs in locating, retrieving, processing and copying [a] record if those costs are specified in an invoice that the institution has received.” In this matter, the IPC held that a quote constitutes an “invoice” for the purpose of this allowance. It upheld the institution’s sizable fee estimate while noting that the nature of the request – aimed at gaining access to deleted e-mails – required the institution to use an external vendor.
E-FOI made the legal news this week after United States District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a decision with strong statements against the adequacy of self-collection under American FOI law. In Ontario at least, paper production strikes a convenient balance that the user pay presumption in our FOI law and decisions like this one seem to keep in place.