An FOI request must be in writing. It can be by letter or in the case of personal requests, e-mail.
According to Section 7(1), a request should:
State that you seek this information under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 & 2003.
Contain sufficient particulars in relation to the information concerned to enable the record to be identified. Please ensure to detail your particulars (i.e. Name, Address, Contact Details (e.g. telephone number and/or e-mail address)) as this information is required for subsequent correspondence that will follow.
Specify the manner or form in which you wish to gain access (the different forms of access are outlined in Section 12 of the Act).
Assistance to Persons with a Disability
The FOI Officer is available to provide assistance to persons with a disability to exercise their rights under the FOI Act (e.g. accepting oral requests from requesters who are unable to read, print and/or write due to their disability, enabling the requester to inspect or have records explained to him or her).
1. FOI Officer
Your request should be addressed to the FOI Officer.
If you are unsure as to how to request information the FOI Officer can advise/help you with your request (see also “How to make an request” tab ).
If you have a disability, the FOI Officer will facilitate the exercise by you of your rights under the FOI Act [Section 11(2)]
The FOI Officer must acknowledge your request in writing within 2 weeks of receipt of it [Section 12(2)].
2. Decision Maker
The request is passed on from the FOI Officer to the Decision Maker.
The Decision Maker’s role is to assess the documents requested and must issue a reply letter to the requester within 4 weeks of the receipt of the request [Section 9(3) (personal data); Section 10(1) (right to information regarding acts of SETU Waterford affecting the person); or Section 13(1) (FOI request)] or otherwise the request will be deemed refused.
3. Internal Review
A requester is entitled to seek an Internal Review under Section 21(2) of the Act, if she/he is not satisfied with the outcome of their initial request.
She/he must submit their request for an internal review within 4 weeks of the date of the reply letter.
This request must also be sent to the FOI Officer and the FOI Officer will pass it on to the Internal Reviewer.
The Internal Reviewer must be of a ranking grade higher than that of the Decision Maker [Section 21(3)].
They will assess the documents requested themselves and consult with the Decision Maker as to the decision taken in the first instance and must issue a reply letter to the requester within 3 weeks of the receipt of the request or otherwise the request will be deemed refused.
4. Information Commissioner
If a requester is still not satisfied with the outcome of their request after the Internal Review stage, they are entitled to appeal to the Information Commissioner,
The Office of the Information Commissioner can be contacted on:
5. High Court
If a requester is not satisfied with the decision of the Information Commissioner, they can appeal to the High Court on a point of law (Section 24).
You can read some case studies of requests that have made it to the High Court on the Information Commissioners website.
6. Supreme Court
There is right of appeal to the Supreme Court from a decision of the High Court (Section 24(8)).
No fee is payable in respect of the initial FOI request. However, fee/charges may apply in other instances which are detailed below:
|Type of request of application
|Reviewed by Information Commissioner
|Application for amendment concerning incorrect information
|Application for reasons for a decision affecting individual
|Appeal decision to charge a fee or deposit or a fee or deposit of a specific amount
|Access to your personal records
*Reduced fees will apply in respect of (a) medical card holders; (b) dependants of medical card holders; and (c) third parties who appeal a decision to release their information on public interest grounds. If you are claiming a reduced application fee on the basis of (a) and (b) above, the request must be accompanied by the medical card registration number, issuing Health Board name and your consent to the verification of these details with that Health Board and/or the Health Service Executive.
Fees for Search and Retrieval and/or copying of records (Section 27)
The amount of these fees that may be charged in respect of Freedom of Information requests are currently equal to the estimated cost of the search for and retrieval of the record concerned, and the estimated cost of any copy of the record made by the public body concerned. There is no charge if the records contain personal information only, unless there are a significant number of records (Section 27 (4)).
If the cost of a search, retrieval and copying is €100 or less, no charge is applied. If the charge exceeds €100, full fees apply. You cannot be charged more than €500.
If the estimated cost of search, retrieval and copying is more than €700, we will let you know and assist you in amending or limiting request in order to reduce the charges but if you do not amend or limit your request, we may refuse it. However, if we decide to process the request, you shall be required to pay the full cost of the searches and a deposit (not less than 20% of the costs) shall be charged.
A list of relevant charges is set out below:
|Type of charge
|Search and retrieval
|€20.00 per hour
|€0.04 cent per sheet
|CD ROM containing copy of documents
|X-ray containing copy of documents
Any payment should be made when by way of postal order, cheque or bank draft