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Decisions of the Information Commissioner - Which Act? Which section?

In October 2014, the FOI Act 2014 replaced the FOI Acts 1997 & 2003. However, the numbered sections of the new Act do not necessarily correspond to the same numbered sections in the Acts of 1997 & 2003. For example, section 15(1)(a) of the FOI Act 2014 corresponds to section 10(1)(a) of the FOI Acts 1997 & 2003.

As such, when searching under a section of the Act, the decisions displayed in the results will inform you whether the decision was made under the FOI Acts 1997 & 2003, or the FOI Act 2014.

Any decision made under the FOI Act 2014 will include a reference to that Act in its title. Consequently, it can be assumed that a decision with no reference to the new Act in its title was made under the FOI Acts 1997 & 2003.


Review of decisions of FOI Bodies

One of the functions of the Information Commissioner is to review decisions made by FOI bodies on requests for information made under the FOI Act. A broad overview of that function is given here. A detailed description can be found in this Office's Procedures Manual. You will find information on how to apply to the Information Commissioner for a review of a decision by an FOI body in the "Apply for Review" part of this website.

Request for information

Under the FOI Act, a requester makes a request for records (electronic or paper documents) and the FOI body must issue a decision on that request within four weeks. The FOI body may decide to release all of the information requested, to release part of it, or to refuse all of it. Where it is refusing access to information, the FOI body can only do so in accordance with the FOI Act which provides for the protection of certain information through its "exemption" clauses. There are also sections of the Act which describe information which is not covered by the Act and public bodies may rely on these to refuse information. There is no fee for an original FOI request to an FOI body, for access to either personal or non-personal information.

Internal review by the FOI body

If the requester is unhappy with the decision, he/she must first appeal the decision to the FOI body (within 4 weeks). The FOI body must then issue an "internal review" decision. Non-reply within a certain time-frame is considered to be a refusal and the requester can move on to the next stage: internal review, or appeal to this Office. On the rare occasions where there is no internal review mechanism available, an application may be made directly to the Commissioner. There is also a small number of "first" decisions which bypass the internal review procedure. A fee may be payable at the internal review stage of the FOI body but only for non-personal requests

Review by the Information Commissioner

A fee may be payable at the application for review stage of the Information Commissioner for non-personal requests. There is no fee for requests for information where the records contain only personal information relating to the requester.