A law firm which demanded a long-term client pay $19,000 to retrieve his files has been told it should have charged no more than the cost of an $8 memory stick.
The Privacy Commission ruled against the firm, which also failed to respond in time to the man's request to access his personal information within the 20 working days' time-frame required by the Privacy Act.
The law firm claimed the fee was to cover 95,000 pages of photocopying.
The client explained that the files were necessary for unrelated legal proceedings which could not proceed without them.
The firm did not change its view when the Privacy Commission said the man was happy to receive his files on a USB stick.
It set the maximum fee the firm could charge at $7.99.
It was only when the commission advised the man to take his case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, and he filed proceedings, that the company backed down.
"We wrote to the law firm saying that as the matter was before the Tribunal, we suggested it provide the client the information without further delay," it said in its case note.
"The client informed us soon afterwards that the law firm had delivered two boxes of files to him. The man had them copied and returned them to the firm's offices."