FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 1982

PART III - ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS  

SECTION 29   CHARGES  

29(1)  


Where, under the regulations, an agency or Minister decides that an applicant is liable to pay a charge in respect of a request for access to a document, or the provision of access to a document, the agency or Minister must give to the applicant a written notice stating:


(a) that the applicant is liable to pay a charge; and


(b) the agency's or Minister's preliminary assessment of the amount of the charge, and the basis on which the assessment is made; and


(c) that the applicant may contend that the charge has been wrongly assessed, or should be reduced or not imposed; and


(d) the matters that the agency or Minister must take into account under subsection (5) in deciding whether or not to reduce, or not impose, the charge; and


(e) the amount of any deposit that the agency or Minister has determined, under the regulations, that the applicant will be required to pay if the charge is imposed; and


(f) that the applicant must, within the period of 30 days, or such further period as the agency or Minister allows, after the notice was given, notify the agency or Minister in writing:


(i) of the applicant's agreement to pay the charge; or

(ii) if the applicant contends that the charge has been wrongly assessed, or should be reduced or not imposed, or both - that the applicant so contends, giving the applicant's reasons for so contending; or

(iii) that the applicant withdraws the request for access to the document concerned; and


(g) that if the applicant fails to give the agency or Minister such a notice within that period or further period, the request for access to the document will be taken to have been withdrawn.

29(2)  
If the applicant fails to notify the agency or Minister in a manner mentioned in paragraph (1)(f) within the period or further period mentioned in that paragraph, the applicant is to be taken to have withdrawn the request for access to the document concerned.

29(3)  
An agency or Minister must not impose a charge in respect of a request for access to a document, or the provision of access to a document, until:


(a) the applicant has notified the agency or Minister in a manner mentioned in paragraph (1)(f); or


(b) the end of the period or further period mentioned in that paragraph.

29(4)  
Where the applicant has notified the agency or Minister, in a manner mentioned in subparagraph (1)(f)(ii), that the applicant contends that the charge should be reduced or not imposed, the agency or Minister may decide that the charge is to be reduced or not to be imposed.

29(5)  
Without limiting the matters the agency or Minister may take into account in determining whether or not to reduce or not to impose the charge, the agency or Minister must take into account:


(a) whether the payment of the charge, or part of it, would cause financial hardship to the applicant, or to a person on whose behalf the application was made; and


(b) whether the giving of access to the document in question is in the general public interest or in the interest of a substantial section of the public.

29(6)  
If the applicant has notified the agency or Minister in the manner mentioned in subparagraph (1)(f)(ii), the agency or Minister must take all reasonable steps to enable the applicant to be notified of the decision on the amount of charge payable as soon as practicable but in any case no later than 30 days after the day on which the applicant so notified the agency or Minister.

29(7)  
If:


(a) that period of 30 days has elapsed since the day on which the agency or Minister was so notified; and


(b) the applicant has not received notice of a decision on the amount of charge payable;

the principal officer of the agency, or the Minister, as the case requires, is, for all purposes of this Act, taken to have made, on the last day of the period, a decision to the effect that the amount of charge payable is the amount equal to the agency's or Minister's preliminary assessment of the amount of the charge mentioned in paragraph (1)(b).

29(8)  
If:


(a) the applicant makes a contention about a charge as mentioned in subsection (4); and


(b) the agency or Minister makes a decision to reject the contention, in whole or in part;

the agency or Minister, as the case requires, must give the applicant written notice of the decision and of the reasons for the decision.

Note:

Section 25D of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901 sets out rules about the contents of a statement of reasons.

29(9)  


A notice under subsection (8) must also state the name and designation of the person making the decision and give the applicant appropriate information about:


(a) his or her rights with respect to review of the decision; and


(b) his or her rights to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner in relation to the decision; and


(c) the procedure for the exercise of those rights;

including (where applicable) particulars of the manner in which an application for internal review (Part VI ) and IC review (Part VII ) may be made.

29(10)  
Section 13 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 does not apply to a decision referred to in subsection (8).

(11)  
A notice under subsection (8) is not required to contain any matter that is of such a nature that its inclusion in a document of an agency would cause that document to be an exempt document.




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