Find out what the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) can review and what you need to do before applying.

Decisions we can review

We review decisions which public bodies make under the Freedom of Information Act. These include:

  • Refusal of access to a record
  • Refusal of access to part of a record
  • Refusal of access in the way you requested (under the Freedom of Information Act you can request a photocopy, transcript, computer disk or ask to examine a document)
  • Deferral of access to a record
  • A decision on a request to correct personal information
  • A refusal to give reasons for a public body's act which materially affects you
  • A decision on a fee or deposit asked for by the public body
  • A decision under section 38 (e.g. where a public body decides to release commercially sensitive information to a third party in the public interest)
  • A decision to extend the time limit for the public body’s decision

Before you apply

Request an Internal Review

Before applying to us for a review, you should ask the public body that made the decision on your FOI Request for an Internal Review.

The process

You can request an Internal Review within four weeks of the original decision. A more senior member of staff will carry out the Internal Review. The public body has three weeks to complete its Internal Review and send you a new decision.

If you get no response

If a public body does not reply to your FOI request or your request for an Internal Review within the required time-frame, this is known as a "deemed refusal". You can then apply to us for a review.

Exceptions to internal review requirement

We generally only accept an application for review after an Internal Review is complete. Exceptions apply if:

  • The Head of the public body made the original decision
  • The public body consulted a third party under section 38 and decided to release information in the public interest that is confidential, commercially sensitive or personal information
  • The public body extended a time limit on an FOI Request
  • The public body decided that the Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the records you requested
  • The public body decided to defer access to a record under section 16

Time limits

In general, you can apply to us for a review within six months of the public body's decision. We can extend the time limit if we think there are reasonable grounds for doing so.

You have only two weeks to appeal to our office if:

  • Section 38 applies to the public body's decision or
  • The public body decided to extend the time limit for considering your FOI request

Do you want more information on the Freedom of Information Act? You will find regulations, codes of practice and manuals on the website of the Freedom of Information Central Policy Unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

OIC decisions

Our decision in a review is legally binding. The applicant or the public body or an affected party can appeal our decision to the High Court, on a point of law.

Apply for a Review