FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1997

Right of person to information regarding acts of public bodies affecting the person.

18

18. (1) The head of a public body shall, on application to him or her in that behalf, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, by a person who is affected by an act of the body and has a material interest in a matter affected by the act or to which it relates, not later than 4 weeks after the receipt of the application, cause a statement, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, to be given to the person—

( a) of the reasons for the act, and

( b) of any findings on any material issues of fact made for the purposes of the act.

(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as requiring—

( a) the giving to a person of information contained in an exempt record, or

( b) the disclosure of the existence or non-existence of a record if the non-disclosure of its existence or non-existence is required by this Act.

(3) Subsection (1) shall not apply to—

( a) a decision of F28 [ the Public Appointments Service or other licence holder concerned under the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 ] not to accept a person as qualified for a position referred to in that section, or

( b) a decision of F28 [ the Chief Executive of the Public Appointments Service made by virtue of section 7 of the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act 1926 ] not to recommend a person to a local authority for appointment to an office referred to in that section,

if, in the opinion of the head concerned, the giving of a statement under subsection (1) in relation to the decision would be likely to prejudice the effectiveness of the process for selecting a person for appointment to the position or office.

(4) If, pursuant to subsection (2) or (3), the head of a public body decides not to cause a statement to be given under subsection (1) to a person, the head shall, not later than 4 weeks after the receipt of the application concerned under subsection (1), cause notice, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, of the decision to be given to the person.

(5) For the purposes of this section a person has a material interest in a matter affected by an act of a public body or to which such an act relates if the consequence or effect of the act may be to confer on or withhold from the person a benefit without also conferring it on or withholding it from persons in general or a class of persons which is of significant size having regard to all the circumstances and of which the person is a member.

F29 [ (5A) Notwithstanding subsection (1), the Minister may provide by regulations for the making of an application under that subsection

( a ) by the parent or guardian of a person referred to in that subsection if the person belongs to a class specified in the regulations, or

( b ) in a case where such a person is dead, by a member of a class specified in the regulations. ]

(6) In this section—

act”, in relation to a public body, includes a decision (other than a decision under this Act) of the body;

benefit”, in relation to a person, includes—

( a) any advantage to the person,

( b) in respect of an act of a public body done at the request of the person, any consequence or effect thereof relating to the person, and

( c) the avoidance of a loss, liability, penalty, forfeiture, punishment or other disadvantage affecting the person.

Annotations:

Amendments:

F28

Substituted (6.10.2004) by Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 (33/2004), s. 61(1) and sch. 2, pt. 1, commenced on enactment.

F29

Inserted (11.04.2003) by Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 (9/2003), s. 13, commenced on enactment.

Modifications (not altering text):

C28

Application of section extended (23.09.2009) by Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Section 18(5A)) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 386 of 2009), reg. 4.

4. (1) An application under section 18 may, subject to the other provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 1997, be made where:

(a) the applicant is a parent or guardian of an individual ("the individual") who is affected by an act of a public body and has a material interest in a matter affected by the act or to which it relates and the individual belongs to one of the following classes of individual:

(i) individuals who, on the date of the application, have not attained full age (within the meaning of the Age of Majority Act 1985 (No. 2 of 1985)), or

(ii) individuals who, on the date aforesaid, have attained full age (within the meaning aforesaid), and have a mental condition, or a mental incapacity, or a severe physical disability, the incidence and nature of which is certified by a registered medical practitioner (within the meaning of the Medical Practitioners Act 1978 (No. 4 of 1978)) and who, by reason thereof, are incapable of exercising their rights under the Freedom of Information Act 1997,

and the individual is an individual as respects whom the granting of the application would, in the opinion of the head concerned, having regard to all the circumstances and to any guidelines drawn up and published by the Minister, be in his or her best interests, or

(b) the individual (“the individual”) is dead and the applicant concerned belongs to one of the following classes of applicant:

(i) a personal representative of the individual acting in due course of administration of his or her estate or any person acting with the consent of a personal representative so acting,

(ii) a person on whom a function is conferred by law in relation to the individual or his or her estate acting in the course of the performance of the function, and

(iii) the spouse or the next of kin of the individual where in the opinion of the head, having regard to all the circumstances and to any relevant guidelines published by the Minister, the public interest, including the public interest in the confidentiality of personal information, would on balance be better served by granting than by refusing to grant the request.

(2) In this Regulation “spouse” includes:

(a) a party to a marriage that has been dissolved, being a dissolution that is recognised as valid in the State or who is living apart from his or her wife or husband pursuant to a deed of separation, and

(b) a man or woman who was not married to but cohabited as husband or wife, as the case may be, with the deceased individual,

and,

“next of kin” is the person or persons standing nearest in blood relationship to the individual in accordance with section 71(2) of the Succession Act, 1965.

Editorial Notes:

E46

Power pursuant to section exercised (23.09.2009) by Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Section 18 (5A)) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 386 of 2009). See C-note above.

E47

Provision for application under section made (22.12.1998) by Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (Section 18) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 519 of 1998).

E48

Previous affecting provision: Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Section 18 (5A)) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 266 of 2003) revoked by Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Section 18 (5A)) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 386 of 2009).