What is an agency's role during an Information Commissioner review?
Agencies and ministers must use their best endeavours to assist the Information Commissioner to make the correct or preferable decision. See Part 10 of the Guidelines and Review of Decisions made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
During the IC review process, an agency or minister should continue to assess options to resolve the review matter. At any time during the process, the agency or minister may vary or substitute an access refusal decision to favour the applicant. See s 55G of the FOI Act.
What happens after the Information Commissioner decides to vary the agency or minister’s decision?
If the Information Commissioner decides to vary a decision, the Information Commissioner will not release any documents to the applicant. Agencies and ministers must comply with a decision by the Information Commissioner and it is up to them to implement the decision and release relevant documents. The agency or minister should bear in mind that there are rights of appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal from a decision by the Information Commissioner. See s 55K of the FOI Act and Part 10 of the Guidelines.