Linda Gunn-Russo v Nugent Care Society and Secretary of State for Health (20 July 2001 – unreported) (QBD)

Access to personal records – fettering of discretion – adoption

An adoption agency was ordered by the High Court to reconsider its decision not to allow an adopted woman to view confidential documents about her natural and adoptive parents. The judge said that the agency had not lawfully exercised its discretion. It had applied its policy too rigidly and had not given proper consideration to the specific circumstances of the case, namely the passage of time since the adoption and the death of those individuals who might have wished to retain confidentiality. The agency should have conducted a balancing exercise between disclosure and confidentiality. The Secretary of State had no duty to make available an appeal procedure against such decisions and did not have the power to compel such an agency to disclose adoption records to an adopted person.

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