FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1997

PART II

Access to Records

Right of access to records.

6

6. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Act, every person has a right to and shall, on request therefor, be offered access to any record held by a public body and the right so conferred is referred to in this Act as the right of access.

(2) It shall be the duty of a public body to give reasonable assistance to a person who is seeking a record under this Act—

( a) in relation to the making of the request under section 7 for access to the record, and

( b) if the person has a disability, so as to facilitate the exercise by the person of his or her rights under this Act.

(3) The Minister shall, after consultation with such other (if any) Ministers of the Government as he or she considers appropriate, draw up and publish to public bodies guidelines in relation to compliance by public bodies with subsection (2)(b), and public bodies shall have regard to any such guidelines.

(4) The records referred to in subsection (1) are records created after the commencement of this Act and—

( a) records created during such period (if any), or after such time (if any), before the commencement of this Act, and

( b) records created before such commencement and relating to such particular matters (if any), and

( c) records created during such period (if any) and relating to such particular matters (if any),

as may be prescribed, after consultation with such Ministers of the Government as the Minister considers appropriate.

(5) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (4) but subject to subsection (6), where—

( a) access to records created before the commencement of this Act is necessary or expedient in order to understand records created after such commencement, or

( b) records created before such commencement relate to personal information about the person seeking access to them,

subsection (1) shall be construed as conferring the right of access in respect of those records.

(6) Subsection (5) shall not be construed as applying, in relation to an individual who is a member of the staff of a public body, the right of access to a record held by a public body that—

( a) is a personnel record, that is to say, a record relating wholly or mainly to one or more of the following, that is to say, the competence or ability of the individual in his or her capacity as a member of the staff of a public body or his or her employment or employment history or an evaluation of the performance of his or her functions generally or a particular such function as such member,

( b) was created more than 3 years before the commencement of this Act, and

( c) is not being used or proposed to be used in a manner or for a purpose that affects, or will or may affect, adversely the interests of the person.

(7) Nothing in this section shall be construed as applying the right of access to an exempt record.

(8) Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting or restricting a public body from publishing or giving access to a record (including an exempt record) otherwise than under this Act where such publication or giving of access is not prohibited by law.

(9) A record in the possession of a person who is or was providing a service for a public body under a contract for services shall, if and in so far as it relates to the service, be deemed for the purposes of this Act to be held by the body, and there shall be deemed to be included in the contract a provision that the person shall, if so requested by the body for the purposes of this Act, give the record to the body for retention by it for such period as is reasonable in the particular circumstances.

(10) Where a request under section 7 would fall to be granted by virtue of subsection (9) but for the fact that it relates to a record that contains, with the matter relating to the service concerned, other matter, the head of the public body concerned shall, if it is practicable to do so, prepare a copy, in such form as he or she considers appropriate of so much of the record as does not consist of the other matter aforesaid and the request shall be granted by offering the requester access to the copy.

F12 [ (11) ( a ) In subsection (4) to (6), commencement of this Act , in relation to local authorities and health boards, means 21 October, 1998.

( b ) In subsection (9), person does not include a public body or any other body, organisation or group that is specified in clauses ( a ) to ( g ) of subparagraph (5) of paragraph 1 of the First Schedule and does not stand prescribed for the time being for the purposes of that subparagraph. ]

Annotations:

Amendments:

F12

Inserted (11.04.2003) by Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 (9/2003), s. 4, commenced on enactment.

Modifications (not altering text):

C21

References to “health boards” affected (1.01.2005) by Health Act 2004 (42/2004), ss. 56 and 66, S.I. No. 887 of 2004.

Definitions ( Part 10).

56.—In this Part “specified body” means—

( a) the health boards,

...

References to specified bodies.

66.—Subject to this Act, references (however expressed) to a specified body in any Act passed before the establishment day, or in any instrument made before that day under an Act, are to be read as references to the Executive, unless the context otherwise requires.

Editorial Notes:

E38

Power pursuant to section 3 and 6(4)(b) exercised (12.02.1999) by Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (Section 6(4)(B)) Regulations 1999 (S.I. No. 46 of 1999), reg. 3.

E39

Previous affecting provision: Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (Sections 6(4), 6(5), and 6(6)) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 516 of 1998), reg. 2, revoked (22.05.2003) by Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Miscellaneous Revocations) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 206 of 2003), reg. 2(a).

E40

Previous affecting provision: Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (Sections 6(9)) Regulations 1998 (S.I. No. 517 of 1998), reg. 3, revoked (22.05.2003) by Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Miscellaneous Revocations) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 206 of 2003), reg. 2(b).