Case Note 209742 [2010] NZ Priv Cmr 21: Councils not permitted to charge lawyers for providing rates information

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A number of lawyers complained to us about local councils charging a fee upon a request for rates information on behalf of clients.A lawyer acting for a property vendor requires rating information from councils to reconcile outstanding rates at the date of settlement for the sale of a property. The councils charged the lawyers a fee for providing this information. The lawyers complained that as they were requesting personal information about their clients, councils should not charge for providing this information.Principle 6We investigated this issue under principle 6 of the Privacy Act which gives individuals the right to access personal information that is held by an agency.Any request by a lawyer on behalf of a client is deemed to be a request by the client. Principle 6 is subject to a number of procedural provisions including section 35 of the Act. Section 35(1)(e) states, in part, that: