Freedom of Information Act (FOI)
Frequently Asked Questions about the NCA and the Freedom of Information Act
These FAQs are also contained in our FOI manual. Download the National Consumer Agency's FOI manual (MS Word, 180KB)
If you cannot find the answer below or in the manual, or require further information, please contact:
Freedom of Information Officer,
National Consumer Agency,
4 Harcourt Road,
Tel: (3531) 4025500
Fax: (3531) 4025589
Q – What is FOI, how does it work?
A – The FOI Act provides that, from 21 April 1998, every person has legal rights to seek access to information not routinely available.
Everyone now has a right:
- To access official records created after 21 April 1998 which are held by all Government Departments or other public bodies listed in the 3rd Schedule of the FOI Act;
- To have personal details on official records corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
- To be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them.
Q - Do I need to make an FOI request to get information from the NCA?
A – No, it is not always necessary to make an FOI request to get information from the NCA.
A considerable amount of material is already made available to the public through our many publications, press releases, our websites NCA.ie and ConsumerConnect.ie, and in response to general enquiries.
The NCA reception at (01) 4025500 is available to assist with general queries, requests for information and publications.
Q - How do I make an FOI request?
A - Requests for information under the FOI Acts must be made in writing to the NCA and, in the case of non-personal information, must be accompanied by an application fee (see below for fees detail) and should refer to the Acts.
If information is required in a particular form (e.g. photocopy, computer disk, etc) this should be specified in the application. Requests should be as specific as possible to enable the information sought to be identified.
Where possible, please try to indicate the time frame for which you wish to access the records, e.g. records created between June 2003 and December 2003.
The NCA is obliged to acknowledge the request within two weeks of its receipt and normally the applicant will be notified of the decision on a request within four weeks of receipt of the request.
Q - Will I be charged for requesting information under the FOI Acts?
A – A standard application fee (as outlined in the list below) must accompany applications with the exception of those applications requesting personal information.
Please note that if claiming a reduced application fee, the request must be accompanied by the Medical Card registration number, issuing Health Board name and your consent to the verification of these details with that Health Board.
Charges may be applied for the time spent finding records and for any photocopying costs incurred by the NCA in providing you with the material requested.
It is very unlikely that any fees will be charged in respect of personal records, except where a very large number of records are involved.
Fees are currently set as follows in accordance with Statutory Instrument No. 13 of 1997, 139 of 1998 as amended by 522 of 1998, and 264 of 2003.
- €15 standard application/processing fee
- €10 standard application/processing fee (medical card holders)
- €75 internal review application fee
- €25 internal review application fee (medical card holders)
- €150 appeal to the Information Commissioner
- €50 appeal to the Information Commissioner (medical card holders)
- €50 Third party appeal to the Information Commissioner
- €20.95 per hour - search and retrieval
- €0.04 per sheet for a photocopy
- €0.51 for a 3 and a half inch computer diskette
- €10.16 for a CD-ROM
- €6.35 for a radiograph (X-Ray)
Q - Can I get help in making an FOI request?
A - Yes, if you require assistance in identifying the records required, the NCA will be happy to assist you in the formulation of your request.
Assistance will also be provided to persons with a disability to exercise their rights under the FOI Acts (e.g. accepting oral requests from requesters who are unable to read, print and/or write due to their disability, enabling the requester to inspect or have records explained to him/her).
For any assistance please contact the Freedom of Information Officer at the above address.
Q - Can I get access to any information that I seek?
A - The following records come within the scope of the FOI Acts.
- All records relating to personal information held by the NCA irrespective of when they were created
- All other records created from the commencement of the FOI legislation (21 April 1998)
- Any records necessary to the understanding of a current record even if created prior to 21 April 1998
However, in order to allow the NCA to properly conduct its business, it will sometimes be necessary to exempt from release certain types of information. These decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. There are 12 exemption provisions set out in the Acts.
Among the key exemptions are records relating to:
- Financial and economic interests of the state and public bodies
- Confidential and commercially sensitive information,
- Personal information (other than information relating to the person making the request). Deliberations of public bodies, functions and negotiations of public bodies.
Q - What's the next step if I am unhappy with a decision on my request?
A - If you are dissatisfied with the response you can seek to have a decision re-examined by a more senior member of staff within the NCA. Applications for review of a decision should be addressed to:
FOI Appeals Officer,
National Consumer Agency,
4 Harcourt Road,
Tel: (+353 1) 4025500
Fax: (+353 1) 4025589
If you are still unhappy with the decision, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Information Commissioner, at the following address:
Office of the Information Commissioner
18 Lower Leeson Street
Tel: (+3531) 6785222
Fax: (+3531) 6610570