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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1982 - SECT 15

Requests for access

Persons may request access

             (1)  Subject to section 15A, a person who wishes to obtain access to a document of an agency or an official document of a Minister may request access to the document.

Requirements for request

             (2)  The request must:

                     (a)  be in writing; and

                    (aa)  state that the request is an application for the purposes of this Act; and

                     (b)  provide such information concerning the document as is reasonably necessary to enable a responsible officer of the agency, or the Minister, to identify it; and

                     (c)  give details of how notices under this Act may be sent to the applicant (for example, by providing an electronic address to which notices may be sent by electronic communication).

          (2A)  The request must be sent to the agency or Minister. The request may be sent in any of the following ways:

                     (a)  delivery to an officer of the agency, or a member of the staff of the Minister, at the address of any central or regional office of the agency or Minister specified in a current telephone directory;

                     (b)  postage by pre-paid post to an address mentioned in paragraph (a);

                     (c)  sending by electronic communication to an electronic address specified by the agency or Minister.

Agency required to assist

             (3)  Where a person:

                     (a)  wishes to make a request to an agency; or

                     (b)  has made to an agency a request that does not comply with this section;

it is the duty of the agency to take reasonable steps to assist the person to make the request in a manner that complies with this section.

Note:          An agency or Minister may refuse to deal with a request if satisfied that a practical refusal reason exists, after undertaking the request consultation process (see section 24).

             (4)  Where a person has directed to an agency a request that should have been directed to another agency or to a Minister, it is the duty of the first-mentioned agency to take reasonable steps to assist the person to direct the request to the appropriate agency or Minister.

Timeframes for dealing with request

             (5)  On receiving a request, the agency or Minister must:

                     (a)  as soon as practicable but in any case not later than 14 days after the day on which the request is received by or on behalf of the agency or Minister, take all reasonable steps to enable the applicant to be notified that the request has been received; and

                     (b)  as soon as practicable but in any case not later than the end of the period of 30 days after the day on which the request is received by or on behalf of the agency or Minister, take all reasonable steps to enable the applicant to be notified of a decision on the request (including a decision under section 21 to defer the provision of access to a document).

          (5A)  In making a decision on a request, the agency or Minister must have regard to any guidelines issued by the Information Commissioner for the purposes of section 93A.

Extension of processing period to comply with requirements of section 26A, 27 or 27A

             (6)  Where, in relation to a request, the agency or Minister determines in writing that the requirements of section 26A, 27 or 27A make it appropriate to extend the period referred to in paragraph (5)(b):

                     (a)  the period is extended by a further period of 30 days; and

                     (b)  the agency or Minister must, as soon as practicable, inform the applicant that the period has been so extended.

Extension of processing period to consult foreign entity

             (7)  Subsection (8) applies if, in relation to a request, the agency or Minister determines in writing that it is appropriate to extend the period referred to in paragraph (5)(b) so that the agency or Minister can:

                     (a)  consult one of the following:

                              (i)  a foreign government;

                             (ii)  an authority of a foreign government;

                            (iii)  an international organisation; and

                     (b)  determine whether the document that is the subject of the request is an exempt document under subparagraph 33(a)(iii) or paragraph 33(b).

             (8)  If this subsection applies:

                     (a)  the period referred to in paragraph (5)(b) is extended by a period of 30 days; and

                     (b)  the agency or Minister must, as soon as practicable, inform the applicant that the period has been extended.



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