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FOI agency resource 7: Statement of reasons checklist

This checklist highlights the key elements in preparing a statement of reasons under s 26 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). You should refer to the FOI Guidelines for full details: Part 8 (Decisions on FOI requests).

Your summary should include these points:

Checklist for preparing a statement of reasons under the FOI Act


checkboxState your authority to make the decision on behalf of the agency under s 23 of the FOI Act.


checkbox Quote or accurately paraphrase the terms of the request, including any clarification or variation in its scope resulting from subsequent consultation with the applicant.

Time frame

checkbox Confirm agreed time frames resulting from consultation with the applicant. If relevant, also refer to extensions of time under ss 15(6) or 15(8) or as allowed by the Information Commissioner (ss 15AB or 15AC).


checkbox If you have not already done so, prepare a schedule of documents to attach to the decision.

In the body of your statement you should:

Relevant documents

checkbox Identify the documents considered relevant to the request. If there are a large number, refer to an attached schedule.


checkbox List the material used to make the decision and to explain the reasons for the decision (for example, any recommendations, submissions and procedures).


checkbox Quote relevant sections of the FOI Act if significant to your decision (either as an attachment or in the body of the decision letter). This may not always be necessary: simply referring to the relevant legislative provision may suffice. Use your judgement.


checkbox Set out your decision clearly and precisely, specifying how it relates to each document where necessary.


checkbox Explain in detail why each exempt document (or part of a document) meets the criteria for exemption or conditional exemption, including any public interest considerations taken into account and the weight given to them. Merely asserting that a document is exempt is not enough.


checkbox Explain how the evidence and findings of material facts support the decision (including what material was used to make the decision, such as guidelines, procedures and third party submissions).


checkbox If relevant to the particular case, explain why deletions could not be made so that an edited (redacted) document could be released.

At the end of your statement you should:


checkbox Remind the applicant that the balance of any charges due, if not already settled, must be paid before access can be provided. However, if your decision is out of time, you cannot impose any charge and you must refund any deposit paid.

Review rights

checkbox Provide information about the applicant’s rights to internal and IC review, as well as the right to complain to the agency or the Information Commissioner. If you have consulted a third party, refer to their review rights and the effect on access to documents.

Release of documents

checkbox If a third party was consulted under ss 26A, 26AA, 27 or 27A and they objected to the release of a document, do not provide access to that document until all the third party’s opportunities for review have run out.

If there are no third party review rights and you are releasing documents, either provide copies of the document(s) or explain when and how copies of the document(s) will be provided.


checkbox Check that any intended attachments are attached.


checkbox Ensure your name and designation is in your signature block and sign and date the letter.

For further information

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