FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES IN DEALING WITH THE APPLICATIONS FOR INFORMATION
Public institutions are required to answer application for information promptly. They are also to practise good records management to ensure information is identified and retrieved. The Freedom of Information Act 2011 applies to all public institutions. The rights of applicants under the Act are established in Section 1 of the Act. The kinds of record subject to this Act are all recorded information held by, or on behalf of a public institution. The legislation applies regardless of the age, format, origin or classification of information. However, section 26 of the Act exempts certain materials.
An application under the Act would generally be in writing. However, illiterate or disabled applicants can still apply for information under the Act by making an oral application for information to any public institution.
REFUSAL OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Section 4 of the Act places three(3) obligations on a public institution. These are:
- An applicant is entitled to receive the record or information that he has applied for.
- If the public institution considers that the application should be denied, it should give a written notice ("Refusal Notice") to the applicant informing him that access to all or part of the requested information will not be granted (if it's relying upon one or more of the exemptions contained in Sections 11, 12, 14, 15, 16,17 and 19 of the Act)
- The reasons for this refusal must be stated.
ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE
There is an implied obligation on public institutions to provide reasonable advice and assistance to applicants. Therefore, when dealing with this section, an institution should make the applicant aware that the material requested is publicly available by other means, and provide the applicant with the information or directions on where, and how, the material requested can be assessed.
THE RESPONSE PROCESS
- Stage 1 – Register
- Stage 2 – Read
- Stage 3 – Record
- Stage 4 – Responsibility
- Stage 5 – Retrieve
- Stage 6 – Refer to Others
- Stage 7 – Redact and Separate
- Stage 8 – Review
- Stage 9 – Reply
- Stage 10 –Release to Publication Scheme under Section 2