Sample Questions for FOI Bodies
This document, entitled Questions for FOI Bodies, sets out a list of questions which
may be relevant when the Information Commissioner is reviewing a decision made
by an FOI body under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014.
The document is primarily intended for use by the Office of the Information
Commissioner (OIC) when seeking submissions from an FOI body in the course of a
review of the body's decision.
The questions listed in this document are not exhaustive; further or other questions
may be asked. Equally, every question relating to a particular provision which is
listed may not necessarily be relevant in a review of a decision pursuant to that
provision. In some cases, for example, the information may be apparent from the
records, from the decisions of the FOI body or from other information provided to the
The Information Commissioner has published a set of Guidance Notes on various
provisions of the FOI Act 2014. Where an FOI body is relying on a particular
provision of the FOI Act for its decision and where a Guidance Note has been
published on that provision, the FOI body should have regard to that Guidance Note
in the preparation of its submission to the Commissioner and in its replies to any
questions asked by the OIC. In doing so, the FOI body should ensure that the
Guidance Note concerned is the current version available on the website of the OIC
at the time.
Burden of Proof
Section 22(12) of the FOI Act 2014 provides that, in a review by the Commissioner of
a decision of an FOI body, a decision to refuse to grant an FOI request shall be
presumed not to have been justified unless the FOI body shows to the satisfaction of
the Commissioner that the decision was justified. Thus, the onus rests with the FOI
body to show to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that its decision to refuse to
grant an FOI request was justified. It is important that FOI bodies bear this in mind
where their decision was to refuse access to records.
The particular requirements to be met or the test to be applied for the application of
any exemption may be found in the language of the exemption itself. Where any of
the questions set out in this document ask an FOI body to explain something or
show something to the Commissioner, such matters should be explained or shown
"to the satisfaction of the Commissioner" (section 22(12) of the FOI Act refers).
The questions set out in this document are intended to provide general guidance
only and are not legally binding
Sample Questions for FOI Bodies Document
Section 15(1)(b) to (i):