Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 No 52
Division 4 Deciding access applications
57 Required period for deciding application
(1) An agency must decide an access application and give the applicant notice of the agency’s decision within 20 working days (the decision period) after the agency receives the application.(2) The decision period can be extended by up to 10 working days for either or both of the following reasons (with a maximum extension under this subsection of 15 working days for any particular access application):(a) consultation with another person is required under a provision of this Act,(b) records are required to be retrieved from a records archive.Note.The decision period can only be extended to allow for mandatory consultation, not just consultation that the agency chooses to do.(3) The regulations can also provide for the extension (and further extension) of the decision period.(4) The decision period can also be extended (and further extended) by agreement with the applicant.Note.A decision by an agency to refuse to agree to extending the decision period is not a reviewable decision.(5) The agency must as soon as practicable after the decision period is extended (and in any case within 5 working days after it is extended) give the applicant notice of any extension of the decision period (including any extension by agreement with the applicant), indicating the date on which the extended decision period will end.(6) An access application is considered to have been decided within time if the agency decides the application and gives the applicant notice of the agency’s decision within the decision period. The decision period is also referred to in other provisions of this Act as the period within which an application is required to be decided.
58 How applications are decided
(1) An agency decides an access application for government information by:(a) deciding to provide access to the information, or(b) deciding that the information is not held by the agency, or(c) deciding that the information is already available to the applicant (see section 59), or(d) deciding to refuse to provide access to the information because there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information, or(e) deciding to refuse to deal with the application (see section 60), or(f) deciding to refuse to confirm or deny that information is held by the agency because there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of information confirming or denying that fact.Note.These decisions are reviewable under Part 5.(2) More than one decision can be made in respect of a particular access application, so as to deal with the various items of information applied for.(3) If an agency finds that information or additional information is held by the agency after deciding an access application, the agency can make a further decision that replaces or supplements the original decision, but cannot be required to make a further decision in such a case. The further decision can be made even if the period within which the application is required to be decided has expired.
59 Decision that information already available to applicant
(1) An agency can decide that information is already available to an applicant only if the information is:(a) made publicly available by the agency or some other agency in accordance with a legislative instrument other than this Act, whether or not availability of the information is by inspection only and whether or not availability is subject to a charge, or(b) available to the applicant from, or for inspection at, the agency free of charge in accordance with this Act or the agency’s policies and practices, or(c) contained in a document that is usually available for purchase.(2) An agency is not required to provide access to information that the agency has decided is already available to the applicant, but notice of the decision must indicate how the information can be accessed by the applicant.
60 Decision to refuse to deal with application
(1) An agency may refuse to deal with an access application (in whole or in part) for any of the following reasons (and for no other reason):(a) dealing with the application would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of the agency’s resources,(b) the agency has already decided a previous application for the information concerned (or information that is substantially the same as that information) made by the applicant and there are no reasonable grounds for believing that the agency would make a different decision on the application,(b1) the applicant has previously been provided with access to the information concerned under this Act or the Freedom of Information Act 1989,(c) the applicant has failed to pay an advance deposit that is payable in connection with the application,Note.See section 70.(d) the information is or has been the subject of a subpoena or other order of a court for the production of documents and is available to the applicant as a result of having been produced in compliance with the subpoena or other order.(2) In deciding whether dealing with an application would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of an agency’s resources, the agency is not required to have regard to any extension by agreement between the applicant and the agency of the period within which the application is required to be decided.(3) In deciding whether dealing with an application would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of an agency’s resources, the agency is entitled to consider 2 or more applications (including any previous application) as the one application if the agency determines that the applications are related and are made by the same applicant or by persons who are acting in concert in connection with those applications.(4) Before refusing to deal with an access application because dealing with it would require an unreasonable and substantial diversion of an agency’s resources, the agency must give the applicant a reasonable opportunity to amend the application. The period within which the application is required to be decided stops running while the applicant is being given an opportunity to amend the application.(5) Notice of an agency’s decision to refuse to deal with an access application must state the agency’s reasons for the refusal.(6) An applicant is not entitled to a refund of the application fee when the agency refuses to deal with the application.
61 Notice of decision to refuse to provide access
Notice of an agency’s decision to refuse to provide access to information because there is an overriding public interest against disclosure of the information must state the following:(a) the agency’s reasons for its decision,(b) the findings on any material questions of fact underlying those reasons, together with a reference to the sources of information on which those findings are based,(c) the general nature and the format of the records held by the agency that contain the information concerned.
62 Notice of processing charges
Notice of an agency’s decision to provide access to information must state whether any processing charges will be payable for access to the information and indicate how those charges have been calculated.
63 Deemed refusal if application not decided within time
(1) If an agency does not decide an access application within time, the agency is deemed to have decided to refuse to deal with the application and any application fee paid by the applicant is to be refunded.Note.A deemed decision to refuse to deal with an application is reviewable under Part 5.(2) The deemed refusal to deal with an application does not prevent the agency from continuing to deal with the application and subsequently deciding the application and giving notice of its decision (a late decision) on the application.(3) The obligation to refund an application fee to the applicant is not affected by the making of the late decision and the late decision does not entitle the agency to payment of an application fee.(4) No processing charge can be imposed for dealing with an access application if the application was not decided within time (whether or not a late decision is made on the application).