FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1997

Requests for access to records.

7

7. (1) A person who wishes to exercise the right of access shall make a request, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, addressed to the head of the public body concerned for access to the record concerned—

( a) stating that the request is made under this Act,

( b) containing sufficient particulars in relation to the information concerned to enable the record to be identified by the taking of reasonable steps, and

( c) if the person requires such access to be given in a particular form or manner (being a form or manner referred to in section 12 ), specifying the form or manner of access.

(2) The head shall cause the receipt by him or her of a request under subsection (1) to be notified, in writing or in such other form as may be determined, to the requester concerned as soon as may be but not later than 2 weeks after such receipt, and the notification shall include a summary of the provisions of section 41 and particulars of the rights of review under this Act, the procedure governing the exercise of those rights, and the time limits governing such exercise, in a case to which that section applies.

(3) Where a request under this section is received by the head of a public body (“the head”) and the record or records concerned is or are not held by the body (“the first-mentioned body”) but, to the knowledge of the head, is or are held by one or more other public bodies, the head shall, as soon as may be, but not more than 2 weeks, after the receipt of the request, cause a copy of the request to be given to the head of the other body or, as the case may be, to the head of that one of the other bodies—

( a) whose functions are, in the opinion of the head, most closely related to the subject matter of the record or records, or

( b) that, in the opinion of the head, is otherwise most appropriate,

and inform the requester concerned, by notice in writing or in such other form as may be determined, of his or her having done so and thereupon—

(i) the head to whom the copy aforesaid is furnished shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, to have received the request under this section and to have received it at the time of the receipt by him or her of the copy, and

(ii) the head shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, not to have received the request.

(4) Where a request under this section relating to more than one record is received by the head of a public body (“the first-mentioned body”) and one or more than one (but not all) of the records concerned is or are held by the body, the head shall inform the requester concerned, by notice in writing or in such other form as may be determined, of the names of any other public body that, to his or her knowledge, holds any of the records.

(5) The Minister shall, after consultation with the Commissioner, draw up and publish to heads guidelines for the purposes of subsection (3) and (4) and heads shall have regard to any such guidelines.

(6) A person shall be deemed to have the knowledge referred to in subsection (3) and (4) if, by the taking of reasonable steps, he or she could obtain that knowledge.

(7) Where—

( a) a person makes a request for information, or a request for access to a record, to a public body or to a head or a director, or member of the staff, of a public body, other than under and in accordance with this Act, and

( b) it is not or may not be possible to give the information, or make available the record, other than pursuant to a request in relation to it under and in accordance with section 7 ,

the head shall, if appropriate, cause the person to be informed of the right of access and shall assist, or offer to assist, the person in the preparation of such a request.

F13 [ (8) A person who makes a request under subsection (1) may, at any time before the making of a decision under section 8(1) in relation to the request, by notice in writing or in such other form as may be determined, given to the head concerned, withdraw the request and the head concerned shall cause notice of the withdrawal to be given to any other person to whom, in the opinion of the head, it should be given. ]

Annotations:

Amendments:

F13

Inserted (11.4.2003) by Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 (9/2003), s. 5, commenced on enactment.

Modifications (not altering text):

C22

Application of section restricted (10.04.2002) by Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 (13/2002), ss. 13, 31(1), (2), commenced on enactment and establishment day 16.12.2002 (S.I. No. 520 of 2005).

Application of Freedom of Information Act, 1997 to certain records.

31.—(1) A head may refuse to grant a request (including a request made before the passing of this Act) under section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (“a request”), if access to the records concerned could, in the opinion of the head, reasonably be expected to prejudice the effectiveness of the performance of its functions by the Board or the Review Committee or the procedures or methods employed for such performance.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a case in which in the opinion of the head concerned the public interest would, on balance, be better served by granting than by refusing to grant the request concerned.

...

C23

Application of section restricted (26.04.2000) by Commission To Inquire Into Child Abuse Act 2000 (7/2000), s. 34, commenced on enactment ( S.I. No. 149 of 2000).

Application of Freedom of Information Act, 1997, to certain records.

34.—(1) A head may refuse to grant a request (including a request made before the passing of this Act) under section 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (“a request”), if access to the record concerned could, in the opinion of the head, reasonably be expected to prejudice the effectiveness of the performance of its functions by the Commission or a Committee or the procedures or methods employed for such performance.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in relation to a case in which in the opinion of the head concerned the public interest would, on balance, be better served by granting than by refusing to grant the request concerned.

(3) Before forming the opinion referred to in subsection (1) or (2), a head shall consult with the Chairperson.

(4) A head shall refuse to grant a request in relation to a record held by the Confidential Committee and transferred to a public body by the Commission upon the dissolution of the Commission.

(5) In this section “head”, “public body” and “record” have the meanings assigned to them by section 2 of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997.

Editorial Notes:

E41

Provision for repayment of fees under section made (7.07.2003) by Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Fees) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 264 of 2003), reg. 5.