Unhappy about the response you got?

If ...

  • You didn't get a reply within 30 calendar days
  • You did not get all of the information that you requested or
  • Your request was refused, but without a reason valid under the law

... you can

  1. Appeal the decision with the authority in question.
  2. Ask for an internal review at the public authority.
  3. If that doesn't help, complain to the Independent Information Commissioner.
  4. Either way, also use other means to answer your question.

1. Appeal the decision #

The law gives you the right to appeal a decision not to release information if you feel that the justification for not releasing that information does not comply with the law. This means you can appeal to the next level in the administrative decision-making process and essentially the authority is asked to reconsider its decision not to give you the information.

It is worth trying the appeal process as it can result in the release of more information – sometimes even all of it.

To submit an appeal, you need to contact the Independent Information Commissioner, stating clearly that you are submitting an appeal. The institution should do the rest.

When you go to make the appeal, infoLib will give you more detailed guidance, and LFIC or iLab can help you formulate your appeal.

2. Asking for an internal review #

At the bottom of the relevant request page on InfoLib choose "request an internal review". Then write a message asking for an internal review of your request. You may want to include a link to the request page, to make it clear which request you are talking about.

Internal reviews are conducted by a senior official or an internal information request review body which by law should be established by each authority or agency. An internal review shall be concluded within thirty (30) working days as of its filing by the applicant. The outcome of each internal review will be given in writing and copies shared with the applicant.

3. Complaining to the Information Commissioner #

If you are still unhappy after the public authority has done their internal review, then you can complain to the Information Commissioner. There is more information about how to do this on the Information Commissioner's website.

To make it easier to send the relevant information to the Information Commissioner, either include a link to your request on InfoLib in your complaint or print out the whole page of your request and all attachments.

InfoLib has no special facilities for handling a request at this stage - it passes into the Information Commissioner's system. You can leave annotations on your request keeping people informed of progress.

A warning. There is a backlog of work at the Information Commissioner, and it can take months to get resolution from them. If you reach this point, you should accept that you won't get the information quickly by this means. Maybe you want to help the fight to improve Freedom of Information, or maybe getting the information slowly is still worthwhile. If in the end you are not happy with the outcome from the Information Commissioner they will advise you on how to pursue the request at the court level.

You can also try and get the information by other means...

4. Using other means to answer your question #

You can try persuing your problem or your research in other ways.

  • Make a new FOI request for summary information, or for documentation relating indirectly to matters in your refused request. Ask us for ideas if you're stuck.
  • If any other public authorities or publicly owned companies are involved, then make FOI requests to them.
  • Write to your MP or other politician and ask for their help finding the answer.
  • Ask other researchers who are interested in a similar issue to yours for ideas. You can sometimes find them by browsing this site; contact any registered user from their page.
  • NGO groups often request information, perhaps one group has requested something similar in the past and could support you in your request. It could be worth contacting NGO groups to ask for help.
  • The Liberia Freedom of Information Coalition is a partner organisation for this site and have processes for supporting people who are trying to access information.
  • You could form a small local campaign group and arrange a meeting with staff from the authority.