Freedom of Information
Introduction to Freedom of Information (FOI)
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014 governs access to information held by State bodies, including the Legal Aid Board.
The FOI legislation provides that every person has the following legal rights:
- the right to access official records held by Government Departments or other public bodies listed in the Act;
- the right to have personal information held on them corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading; and
- the right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect them
These rights of access to records, to have personal information amended and to have a statement of reasons for a decision can also be exercised by a parent or guardian in respect of a minor or disabled person and by the next of kin or personal representative of a deceased person (subject to guidelines published by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform from time to time).
These rights mean that you can seek access to personal information held by the Board, no matter when the information was created, and to other records created by the Board after 21 April 1998. The Board became a prescribed body in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 1997 (now replaced by the 2014 Act) on 1 June 2002.
More information on how to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2014
Routinely available information
The Board makes available to the public, as a matter of routine, information in relation to its functions and activities. Such information is available informally to you without the need to use the FOI Act and is made available generally on this website.
The FOI Act is designed to allow public access to information held by public bodies that is not routinely available through other sources. Access to information under the Act is subject to certain exemptions and involves specific procedures and time limits.
Review and appeal
The FOI Act provides for internal reviews of decisions made under the Act as well as appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner. Further information on reviews and appeals.
The fees in respect of FOI requests are set out in the Freedom of Information Act 2014 as follows:-
Personal records: no fee is payable when the request relates to personal information about the requester (other than where the grant of information concerned relates to a significant number of records and in such cases, the means of the requester must be taken into account). No application fee is payable in respect of a request for an internal review.
Non-personal information: no fee is payable where the total Search, Retrieval and Copying (SRC) charge is €100 or less (5 hours at €20 per hour). Where the estimated (SRC) charge is in excess of €100 full fees apply for all the time attaching to the request. There is a cap on the amount of SRC fees that can charged of €500. There is a further upper limit on estimated SRC fees of €700 (35 hours) above which the Board can refuse to process a request. Alternatively, if the requester agrees, the Board can decide to process such a request but full SRC fees apply without limit. Other fees may also be charged (4c per sheet for photocopying; €10.00 for a CD-ROM containing copy of documents; €6 for a radiograph). There will be no charge in respect of the time spent by the Board in considering requests; and
An internal review of non-personal information decisions: a fee of €30 may also be charged (€10 for medical card holders).
Where the estimated SRC charge is likely to reach €101, a deposit of not less than 20% of that charge is charged to and paid by the requester. The charging of SRC is mandatory in these circumstances. In such a case, the Board will make every effort to assist the applicant to amend the request so as to reduce or eliminate the amount of the deposit. .
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2014, the Board has a statutory obligation to prepare and publish a scheme by the 14th April 2016 on its website which sets out detailed information about the Board and its operations and about the information and records it will make available, both generally and by way of FOI. The Board’s publication scheme must be in line with the model publication scheme published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. This is to ensure that the Board and other public bodies present information in a uniform and consistent manner and publish as much information as possible on a routine basis. The publication scheme requires information to be published under the following headings:
1. Information about the Board
2. Services provided or to be provided to the public
3. Decision making process for major policy proposal
4. Financial information
5. Procurement, and
6. FOI disclosure log and other information to be published routinely.
Administrative Procedures Handbook - 10th Edition - January 2016
Family Mediation Procedures Handbook -1st Edition - October 2014
Circular on Legal Services - July 2016 - 9th Edition
Useful FOI Links
Please note that accessing these links will bring you to external websites. Use the back button on your browser to return to the Legal Aid Board website.
Freedom of Information Act 2014
Freedom of Information Central Policy Unit
Office of the Information Commissioner