Freedom of information internal review

The Freedom of Information Act (the FOI Act) gives rights of public access to information held by public authorities. The Code of Practice issued under Section 45 of the FOI Act recommends that each public authority should have in place a procedure for dealing with complaints made in relation to the handling of requests for information. In this context the terms “procedure for dealing with complaints” and “internal review” are to be treated as one and the same.

Dealing with a Request for Review

​Any written reply from an applicant expressing dissatisfaction with the council's response to a valid request for information will be treated as a complaint to be dealt with under this process whether or not the applicant has specifically asked for the decision or the handling of the application to be reviewed internally.

A request for a review from a complainant may involve:

  • A request for a review of a decision to withhold information or;
  • A complaint about the handling of a request for information or
  • A complaint about the Council’s publication scheme.

The Council reserves the right to ask the applicant for clarification of the grounds of their complaint, if the grounds are not clear.

Grounds for Complaint

​An applicant is entitled to complain to the council if:

  • It is believed that the application was not dealt with within the 20 working day time limit.
  • All the information requested is not received
  • A reason for the request being refused is not received
  • It is felt that exemptions have been wrongly applied, and/or
  • It is felt that a fee has been wrongly applied

Internal Review

  • ​If the customer is dissatisfied with the response they receive to their initial request for information, they can request an internal review.
  • Customers should be told that if they wish the original decision to be reviewed, they should write to the Solutions Team.
  • An applicant must submit a request for a review no later than 40 working days from the date of receipt of the response.

The Solutions Team will arrange for the original decision to be reviewed by a panel comprising an officer from legal services and a nominated Tier 4 manager. The both legal officer and the nominated Tier 4 manager must be independent from the initial decision. The panel of reviewing officers will consider all of the information that was requested, including copies of any information that was exempt. Every effort must be made to ensure a fresh, independent approach is taken. The panel will make a decision whether any exemptions were properly applied, and whether the council has complied with its statutory duties.

The legal officer will write to the applicant informing them of the outcome of the review providing reasons for the decision. If the decision is made that some or all of the information that has been requested should be released to the applicant, the information will be sent out with the decision, if this is not possible the Applicant will be notified of when the information will be released.

Where the original decision is reversed and the information is deemed suitable for release, the applicant should be informed immediately, and the information should be sent out within 10 working days, where this is not possible a time for release must be stated in the decision letter.

If the original decision is upheld and the Council still feels the information is exempt from release, the applicant will be informed of the outcome of the review, the reasoning behind it and advised of their right to appeal the Information Commissioner if they are dissatisfied with the council’s response.

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Tel: 01625 545700
Fax: 01625 545510

Unless there are exceptional circumstances, all reviews must be completed as soon as possible, and in any event within 40 working days of the request for a review being received. If at any time it becomes apparent that this deadline cannot be met, the applicant will be informed and given an explanation for the delay.

Where the reviewing panel is of the opinion that the council’s procedures or processes for handling requests for information can be improved, they may make a recommendation to the solutions team.

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