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Questions related to the Office of the Information Commissioner

Before the Commissioner can review a decision made by an FOI Body, the requester must [subject to certain exceptions listed below] first make a request for an ‘internal review’ of the initial decision made by the FOI Body. This request must normally be made within 4 weeks of issuing the decision. [See Section 21(7) of the Act]

The following is a list of decisions types made by an FOI Body that the Commissioner can review following an ‘internal review’ of a decision:

  1. refusal to give a statement of reasons for a decisions which materially affects a person or the adequacy of a statement given
  2. refusal to provide access to a record
  3. refusal to provide access to part of a record
  4. refusal to provide access to a record in the manner sought by the requester
  5. deferral of access to a record sought by the requester under section 16(1)(a) only, i.e. deferral relating to certain records due to be laid before or published to either or both Houses of the Oireachtas or an Oireachtas committee
  6. decisions related to a request to amend personal information
  7. decisions related to fees or a deposit for ‘search and retrieval’ fees in excess of €25 or for ‘up-front’ fees

There are a number of decisions made by an FOI Body that the Commissioner can review under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, which have not been subject to an internal review by the FOI body.

The Commissioner may review the following decisions made by an FOI Body:

  1. Where a decision has been made to extend the time limit on an FOI request [section 14]
  2. Where a decision has been made to defer access to a record [section 16(1)(b) and (c) only]
  3. Where the original FOI decision was made by the head of the FOI body
  4. Where a decision has been made that the FOI Act does not apply in relation to the records requested
  5. Where a third party has been consulted under section 38 (Procedure in relation to certain FOI requests to which section 35,36 or 37 applies)
  6. Decisions made by the Commissioner are binding on all parties. There is however a right of appeal to the High Court, on a point of law, in relation to a decision made by the Commissioner [See Section 24(1)(a) of the Act]. In addition any decision of the High Court on an appeal carries a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal.
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