TELEPHONE: 00 353 1 6471650
FAX: 00 353 1 6769577
POSTAL: 36, Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2.
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In simple terms, the Freedom of Information Act applies only to the administration files held by the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman. Investigation files held by the Office are not subject to the provisions of the FoI Act. Full details are provided hereunder.
The Pensions Ombudsman's Office is subject to the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, 1997 as amended by the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Act 2003 and also Section 23 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2003 and the Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Prescribed Bodies) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 297 of 2006).
The FOI Act establishes three new statutory rights:
a legal right for each person to access information held by public bodies;
a legal right for each person to have official information relating to him/herself amended where it is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
a legal right to obtain reasons for decisions affecting oneself.
However, these rights are restricted in the case of the Pensions Ombudsman's Office in that under Section 46(1)(c)(v) of the FOI Act, 1997 (as inserted by Section 23(b) of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2003) records relating to an examination or investigation carried out by the Pensions Ombudsman under the Pensions Act 1990 are excluded from the provisions of the FOI Act.
Other records - for example relating to the administration of the Office, to personnel matters, or general contacts with public bodies - will be available under the FOI Act (subject to the standard provisions in that Act).
The Office will acknowledge a request within two weeks and will respond within four weeks. Reasonable assistance will be given to persons to formulate their requests in such a way as to identify the particular record being sought. Requesters will be informed individually of their right to seek a review of any decision made under the Act.
RIGHTS OF REVIEW AND APPEAL
The FOI Act provides for a right of review, and subsequently, of appeal, where you are not satisfied with the decision made. There is also a right of review and appeal where access has been deferred, or in relation to the level of fees charged, or in relation to the form in which the request is being met e.g. the requester wishes to have the information on computer diskette and the body decides instead to provide it by way of photocopy. Details of the review/appeal mechanism, in relation to the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman, are set out below.
You may seek an internal review of the initial decision, which will be carried out by an official at a higher level, if:
1. you are dissatisfied with the initial response received, i.e., refusal of request, form of access, charges, or
2. you have not received a reply within four weeks of your initial application (this is deemed to be a refusal of the request and allows you to proceed to internal review).
NOTES ON MAKING REQUESTS
FOI requests should be made in writing and, in order to avoid any possible confusion, should specify that the request is being made under the FOI Act. (Click here to view sample information request letter). If there is a desired form in which the information should be provided, e.g. photocopy, computer diskette, this should be mentioned in the request. Requesters should give as much detail as possible in order to enable the record sought to be identified. If there is any difficulty in identifying the record required, the staff of the Office will be happy to assist in preparing the request.
A request for internal review must be made within four weeks of the initial decision. The Office must then complete the internal review within three weeks. Internal review must normally have been sought before a further appeal may be made. An official at a more senior level to that of the first deciding official conducts any review under the internal review procedures. In the normal course, decisions given by a public body at the review stage may become the subject of further review by the Information Commissioner.
Requests should be made, in writing, to:
Máire Bríd O'Dea
Pensions Ombudsman's Office,
36, Upper Mount Street,
Section 47 of the FOI Act provides for an 'upfront' fee for the processing of requests for non personal information and for fees for the time spent finding records and for any photocopying costs incurred in providing material requested.
Upfront Fees: Regulations were made by the Minister for Finance prescribing fees for non personal FOI requests with effect from 7th July, 2003. These fees are as follows:
|Type of Request or Application||Standard Fee*||Reduced Fee**|
|Initial request under Section 7 of the Act||€15||€10|
|Internal Appeal under Section 14 of the Act||€75||€25|
|Appeal to Information Commissioner under Section 34||€150||€50|
|Request/Appeal for personal information under Section 7||Free||Free|
|Application for amendment of a record containing incorrect information||Free||Free|
|Application for reasons for a decision affecting individual||Free||Free|
* There are no fees where you appeal a decision to charge an 'upfront' fee or a decision to charge a fee or deposit in respect of search and retrieval under under Section 47 of the Act.
** Reduced fees will apply in respect of third parties who appeal a decision to release their information on public interest grounds.
|Search and Retrieval||€20.95 per hour|
|Copying - photocopy per sheet||€0.04|
|Copying - floppy disk||€0.51|
|Copying - CD Rom||€10.16|
Copying - radiograph
Section 15 and 16 Manuals
Section 15 and 16 of the Freedom of Information Acts require all relevant organisations to publish manuals to assist members of the public in ascertaining and exercising their rights under the Freedom of Information Acts.