Ballraíocht Ar | Déan Teagmháil Linn

Personal Information

Question:  Who may make an FOI request?

Section 11 confers a general right on ‘every person’ to be offered access to any record held by an FOI body, subject to the provisions of the Act.

Question:   Can I contact a requester?

Answer: Yes.

Contacting a requester can often assist you in working on an FOI request. Assisting a requester with something like refining their request can often be done much more effectively when it is done by phone. If you agree something with a requester regarding refinement or dates you should follow this up with a letter to them which outlines the details of what you have discussed.

Question: Can members of the public request amendments to personal records?

Answer: The FOI Act confers a right on members of the public to seek amendment of records relating to personal information held by FOI bodies. Section 9 of the Act sets out the mechanism whereby such a record may be amended if it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading.

This right parallels a provision in the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 allowing for amendment of personal data. [ for additional information please see Guidance Note # 18 – Data Protection and FOI ]

Question: Having left a position in a public body, is my name, which is on a large amount of correspondence in that body, considered personal information?

Answer: No

Section 2(I) outlines that the names of staff members, which are written or recorded in any form in the course of carrying out their duties, in a position remunerated from public funds is not considered personal information.  [ for additional information please see Guidance Note # 19  – Protection for public servants ]

Question: Can amendments of records relating to personal information be made retrospectively?

Answer: Yes

Section 17 applies to personal information regardless of the date of creation of the records. Section 9 states ‘where personal information in a record held by an FOI body’, this would indicate that the records which are subject to a request for an amendment are simply those held by the body without confinement.

Question: What procedure should be followed when amending records relating to personal information?

Answer: Where an FOI body agrees to amend a record relating to personal information, it may, at its discretion, avail of any of the three options outlined in section 9:-

  • alter the record so as to make the information complete, correct or not misleading, as may be appropriate
  • add to the record a statement specifying the respects in which the body is satisfied that the information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading, as may be appropriate, or
  • delete the information from the record.

Question: Is there a fee for a section 9 application?(Amendmentof records relating to personal information)

Answer : No

An application under section 9 or a subsequent review application under section 21 or section 22 is exempt from FOI charges.

Question: Can I charge a requester for personal information?

Answer: Yes (where there are significant numbers of records)

No Search, Retrieval and Copying (SRC) charge applies, other than where the grant concerned relates to a significant number of records and in considering whether or not such a charge should be made, the means of the requester must be taken into account (Ref Section 27(4)). In determining whether or not to apply this charge, FOI bodies should take account of the time taken to search for and retrieve the records released, rather than just the number of records involved.  [For additional information please see Guidance Note # 6  –   Rev. Fees and Charges.]