If someone requests access to a document under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) that includes information about you or your business, you have certain rights because you have an interest in the outcome of the request.

When a requested document contains information about you or your business that may be exempt or conditionally exempt under the FOI Act, the agency or minister must give you or your business a reasonable opportunity to make a submission that the document is exempt from disclosure. For example, a document may be exempt because it contains trade secrets or commercially valuable information, or it may be conditionally exempt because of your personal or business interests.

Can you find out who wants access to the document?

You may contact the agency or minister and ask. Generally, however, an agency won’t disclose the name of the individual who requested access to the document, unless the individual gives their consent.

How do you make a submission?

The agency or minister inviting you to make a submission will let you know how to do it and how long you have to submit it.

What happens to your submission?

The agency or minister will take your submission into account when deciding whether to give the applicant access to the document they requested. Although you have the right to state your view, the agency or minister makes the final decision.

If the agency or minister decides to give the applicant access to the document they requested, they’ll let you know in writing. They won’t disclose the document to the applicant until the time for you to appeal the decision has expired.

Your review rights

You can ask the agency for an internal review if you disagree with their decision to disclose a document.

If you ask for an internal review, an agency or minister can’t disclose the requested document to the applicant until all your opportunities to ask for a review of the decision have run out. An agency will give you 30 days after letting you know, in writing, their decision, to ask for an internal review.

The applicant’s review rights

The applicant can also ask for an internal review if the agency decides not to disclose the document. The agency will let you know if the internal review results in them deciding to disclose the document. However, if you ask us for an Information Commissioner (IC) review, the agency will have to wait for the outcome of the IC review before they disclose the document.

If the applicant asks us for an IC review of the decision not to disclose the document, we’ll let you know, in writing, and you have the right to take part in the review.