Freedom of Information
FOI and NOCA
The Freedom of Information (FOI) 2014 Act came into effect on October 14th 2014 and gives people the right to access records held by Government Departments and certain public bodies which includes the National Office of Clinical Audit.
The FOI Act 2014 provides that every person has the following legal rights:The right to access official records held by public bodies prescribed under Section 12 of FOI Act (FOI bodies); The right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading under Section 9 of FOI Act; and The right to be given reasons for decisions taken by FOI bodies that affect them under Section 10 of FOI Act.
Under the Act, a record includes any papers, memorandum, text or other document, any photograph, film or recording or any form in which data are held (whether manual, mechanical or electronic), and anything that is a part or a copy, or a combination of the foregoing.
Under the FOI Act, anyone is entitled to apply for access to information not otherwise publicly available. Each person has a right to:
all records created after the Act commenced on April 21st 1998;
all records created earlier if needed to understand records created after that date;
all records relating to personal information, irrespective of when they were created;
all records of staff created after April 21st 1995, or earlier if used adversely against a staff member.
An internal review and external appeals procedure support these rights.
The request must indicate that the information is being sought under the FOI Act.
Indicate if information is required in a particular format (such as a photocopy, computer disk etc.)
Requests should be as specific as possible to enable the information sought to be easily identified.
Provide full contact details, including a telephone number and e-mail address where available, so that you may be contacted if it is necessary to clarify the details of your request.
You may be required to provide identification, especially when requesting personal information. A typical form of identification that you could be asked to produce will be a copy of your passport, driving license or birth certificate. If difficulty is experienced in identifying the records required, the FOI Unit will be happy to assist the requester in the formulation of the request.
Charges may be applied by NOCA in line with section 27 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 for the time spent searching for and retrieving records of non-personal information, and for any copying costs incurred in providing requesters with the copies of the records requested. It is unlikely that any charges will be applied in respect of personal records, except where a large number of records are involved.
If the cost of search, retrieval and copying is €100 or less, under the Act no fee is applicable. If the charge exceeds €101, full fees will be requested. The maximum charge for any one request must not exceed €500, however if the estimated cost of search, retrieval and copying is more than €700 the request can be refused, unless it is refined to bring the search, retrieval and copying fees below this limit.
A fee of €30 (€10 for medical card holders) must accompany any application for internal review where the review concerns non-personal information.
Review by Information Commissioner
A standard fee of €50 must accompany applications to the Information Commissioner for review of decisions made by public bodies.
A reduced fee of €15 applies where a review is applied for by the holder of an Irish medical card or a dependent of a medical card holder.
Appointed FOI decision makers make decisions on applications for information under FOI.
The FOI Unit will acknowledge the request within 10 working days and a decision will follow within 20 working days (or eight weeks in certain cases).
Following the receipt of FOI applications, the unit will forward them to the FOI decision maker in the relevant department for action.
If your application for information is granted:
You will receive a letter confirming your request has been granted.
It is customary for you to be advised of the name of the person dealing with your request.
You will be informed when and how access to the relevant records will be provided and the manner in which it will be granted.
You will be given details of the charges, as applicable.
If your application is refused or part-granted:
You will receive a letter stating that your request has been refused or only part granted and you will be given reasons for the refusal.
You will be informed of your rights of review and appeal.
The Act sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may be damaging or inappropriate. Where NOCA invokes these provisions to withhold information, the decision may be appealed. Decisions in relation to deferral of access, charges, forms of access, etc. may also be the subject of appeal. Details of the review and appeals mechanisms are as follows
You may seek an internal review of the initial decision, which will be carried out by nominated Internal Reviewers if:
You are dissatisfied with the initial response received, i.e. refusal of information, form of access, fees, etc. or
You have not received a reply within four weeks of your initial application. This is deemed to be a refusal of your request and allows you to proceed to internal review.
Such a request for internal review must be submitted within 4 weeks of the initial decision. The Office must complete the review within 3 weeks. Internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Office of the Information Commissioner. You will be notified of the outcome in writing.
Following completion of an internal review, you may seek independent review of the decision from the Information Commissioner. Also, if you have not received a reply to your application for internal review within three weeks, this is deemed to be a refusal and you may appeal the matter to the Information Commissioner.
Appeals in writing may be made directly to the Information Commissioner at the following address:
Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Phone: (01) 6785222
Fax: (01) 6610570