FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1997

Conclusiveness of certain decisions pursuant to sections 23 and 24 .

25

25. (1) ( a) Subject to paragraph (b), where—

(i) a Minister of the Government or the head of a public body (other than a Department of State or the Office of the Tánaiste) in relation to which functions stand conferred on that Minister of the Government—

(I) pursuant to section 8 , refuses to grant a request to him or her under section 7 , or

(II) pursuant to section 14 , upholds a decision, or decides, to refuse to grant a request under section 7 ,

because he or she is satisfied that, by virtue of section 23 or 24 , the record concerned is an exempt record, and

(ii) the Minister of the Government is satisfied, that the record is of sufficient sensitivity or seriousness to justify his or her doing so,

the Minister of the Government may declare, in a certificate issued by him or her (“a certificate”), that the record is, by virtue of section 23 or 24 , an exempt record.

( b) A Minister of the Government shall not issue a certificate in respect of a record the subject of a decision referred to in clause (I) or (II) of paragraph (a) (i) by the head of a public body (other than a Department of State or the Office of the Tánaiste) unless he or she has been requested by the head, in writing or such other form as may be determined, to do so.

(2) Where an application is made to a head for the review under section 14 of a decision to refuse to grant a request under section 7 , a certificate shall not be issued in respect of the record concerned more than 3 weeks after the date of the receipt of the application by that head.

(3) While a certificate is in force—

( a) the record to which it relates shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be deemed conclusively to be an exempt record, and

( b) an application for a review under section 14 or 34 , as may be appropriate, of the decision concerned under section 8 or 14 in relation to the record shall not lie.

(4) A document purporting to be a certificate and to be signed by a Minister of the Government shall, unless the contrary is proved, be deemed to be a certificate of that Minister of the Government and to be in force and shall be received in any proceedings in a court or under section 14 or 34 without further proof.

(5) A certificate shall specify—

( a) the request under section 7 concerned,

( b) the provisions of section 23 or 24 , as may be appropriate, by reference to which the record to which it relates is an exempt record,

( c) the date on which the certificate is signed by the Minister of the Government concerned and the date of its expiration, and

( d) the name of the requester,

and shall be signed by the Minister of the Government by whom it is issued.

(6) Upon the issue of a certificate, the Minister of the Government concerned shall cause—

( a) a copy of the certificate to be furnished forthwith to the requester concerned, and

( b) a copy of the certificate and a statement in writing of the reasons why the record to which it relates is an exempt record and of the matter by reference to which the Minister of the Government is satisfied that subsection (1) (a) (ii) applies to the record to be furnished forthwith to the Taoiseach and such other Ministers of the Government as may be prescribed.

(7) F51 [ ( a ) Subject to paragraph ( b ), the Taoiseach, jointly with any other Ministers of the Government standing prescribed under subsection (6), shall as soon as may be after the expiration of each period of 12 months (or such other period not exceeding 24 months in length as may be prescribed) beginning with the period from the commencement of section 20 (1) of the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 review the operation of subsection (1) during that period. ]

( b) A Minister of the Government shall not take part in a review under this subsection in so far as it relates to a certificate issued by him or her but may make submissions to the other Ministers of the Government concerned in relation to the part of such a review in which he or she is precluded as aforesaid from taking part.

( c) If, following a review under this subsection, the Ministers of the Government concerned are not satisfied—

(i) that a record to which the certificate concerned relates is an exempt record, or

(ii) that any of the information contained in the record is of sufficient sensitivity or seriousness to justify the continuance in force of the certificate,

they shall request the Minister of the Government concerned to revoke the certificate.

( d) A Minister of the Government may, for the purposes of a review by that Minister of the Government under this subsection, examine all relevant records held by or on behalf of or under the control of another head.

(8) ( a) The Taoiseach may, at any time, review the operation of subsection (1) in so far as it relates to any other Minister of the Government or the issue of a particular certificate by another Minister of the Government.

( b) Paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (7) shall have effect in relation to a review under this subsection with the necessary modifications.

(9) A Minister of the Government may, and shall, if so requested pursuant to subsection (7) (c), by instrument signed by him or her, revoke a certificate issued by that Minister of the Government and, if he or she does so, he or she shall cause the requester concerned to be furnished forthwith with a copy of the instrument.

(10) If a certificate or the decision concerned under section 8 or 14 in relation to a record to which a certificate relates is annulled by the High Court under section 42 , the certificate shall thereupon expire.

(11) A Minister of the Government shall, in each year after the year in which this section comes into operation, cause to be prepared and furnished to the Commissioner a report in writing specifying the number of certificates issued by him or her in the preceding year and the provisions of section 23 or 24 , as may be appropriate, by virtue of which, pursuant to section 8 , the grant of the request under section 7 concerned was refused, or, pursuant to section 14 , a decision to uphold a decision to refuse to grant, the request under section 7 concerned was made.

(12) Where a certificate is revoked or has expired and another certificate is not in force in relation to the record concerned or the certificate is annulled under section 42 , the requester concerned may make an application for a review under section 14 or 34 , as may be appropriate, of the decision concerned under section 8 or 14 not later than 28 days after the date of the revocation, expiration or annulment, as the case may be.

(13) Subject to subsections (9) and (10), a certificate shall remain in force for a period of 2 years from the date on which it is signed by the Minister of the Government concerned and shall then expire, but a Minister of the Government may, at any time, issue a certificate under this section in respect of a record in relation to which a certificate had previously been issued unless pursuant to—

( a) a decision (which has not been reversed) following a review under section 14 or 34 , or

( b) a decision under section 42 on an appeal to the High Court,

the record is not an exempt record.

Annotations:

Amendments:

F51

Substituted by Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 (9/2003), s. 20(1), commenced in accordance with s. 20(2): “(2) Subsection (1) shall come into operation upon the expiration of the period of 6 months referred to in paragraph (a) of section 25(7) of the Principal Act during which this Act is passed but, notwithstanding that subsection, the review referred to in the said paragraph (a) shall be carried out in respect of that period.”

Editorial Notes:

E50

Power pursuant to s. 3 exercised in relation to this section (22.12.1998) by Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (Section 25(6)) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 520 of 1998), reg. 2.