SOAS University of London

Information Request (FOI, EIR) Appeal Procedures

Purpose

This document sets out the procedures that will be followed by SOAS when dealing with appeals over the handling of Freedom of Information and Environmental Information, and complaints relating to the School’s Freedom of Information Publication Scheme. Information about how to appeal the handling of requests for personal data under data protection law follow the procedure in the 'Can I appeal?' section of the page 'Requesting Access to Personal Data'.

Background

SOAS is subject to two areas of information rights legislation which provide rights of access to corporate information held by the School:

  • The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIRs) allow for access to information relating to the environment.
  • The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) has created a general right of access to recorded information that falls outside the scope of “personal data” or environmental information.

These rights are subject to various limitations and exceptions.

If an information request is received, the School has to respond to the request within statutory deadlines. Information requests are normally processed by the Information Compliance Manager (ICM). For further information, see the School’s web page on Submitting a Freedom of Information or Environmental Information request.

Applicants who are dissatisfied with the handling of their Freedom of Information or Environmental Information Request can appeal to the Information Commissioner, the independent office that regulates Freedom of Information, Environmental Information and Data Protection. The Commissioner will not hear the appeal, however, unless the applicant has first gone through the authority's internal appeal process.

Appeal Procedures for FOI and EIR

(1) When a complaint is received, the Information Compliance Manager (ICM) will write to acknowledge receipt.

(2) The ICM will initially try to resolve any concerns informally within 5 working days. You should state as fully as possible why you think your request was not dealt with in accordance with the legislation, and the remedy which you are seeking from the School.

(3) If you remain dissatisfied after the ICM's response, you can ask for an internal review of the way the School has handled your request. Requests for internal review should be submitted promptly and within 20 working days of the School's response to your request.

(4) The internal review will be conducted by the Director of Legal and Governance unless they have previously been involved with dealing with your request (in which case another senior member of Professional Services staff will be asked to conduct the review). The Director of Legal and Governance will be provided with:

  • Copies of the ICM's correspondence relating to the request, including the response to the applicant.
  • Copies of any information released to the applicant, any information which was withheld, and any information which was located but deemed to be irrelevant to the request.
  • Any relevant guidance notes and decision notices issued by the Information Commissioner.
  • The school's Freedom of Information guidance, as appropriate.
  • Copies of any relevant sections of the School's Freedom of Information Publication Scheme.
  • Any other information which the ICM believes the Director of Legal and Governance may need to have to understand the request and the School's response.

(5) The ICM will write to the complainant no later than 20 working days after the complaint was received with the outcome of the internal review. If the review found that information should be released, the information will be provided as soon as practically possible. 

(6) If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal review, you can ask the Information Commissioner for an assessment as to whether SOAS has processed your request in accordance with the relevant information access legislation. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at the following address: 

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
United Kingdom

http://www.ico.org.uk

Page last updated: July 2019