What if I am unhappy with the handling of my request?
The Code of Practice issued under Section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act places a duty on public authorities to put in place an appeals procedure to ensure that applicants are able to call for an internal review if they are not content with the public authority’s handling of their request.
Types of complaints
You may be dissatisfied with the treatment you have received if, for example:
Your application was not dealt with within the 20 working days timescale
You did not receive all of the information requested
You feel that exemptions have been wrongly applied
You feel that a fee has been wrongly charged
Time limit for submitting a complaint
In line with guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office, an appeal request must be submitted within two months of the University’s final response to your request.
What happens next?
On receipt of your complaint you will receive an acknowledgment and an indication of when you should expect a response.
The review panel will comprise staff who were not party to the original decision on whether to release information. Such a review panel will normally consist of three senior members of staff, one of whom would normally be a Pro Vice-Chancellor.
The review must provide a fair and impartial means of reviewing decisions made during the original consideration of whether to release information.
All internal reviews will consider the information released against the information requested and make a full review of the papers associated with the original application.
The review panel may discuss the original decision with members of staff who were involved with the application, to ascertain how the decision was made, and will view documents gathered or retained to support this decision.
The internal review panel will discuss their findings with the Records Manager, in order to ensure that any internal processes which may need to be altered are fully reviewed.
On completion of the review, you will be fully informed of its outcome.
Internal reviews must be completed within a reasonable timescale. In accordance with recommendations from the Department for Constitutional Affairs, the University aims to deal with simple considerations within 20 working days of receiving the complaint, whilst aiming to deal with more complex reviews, such as reconsidering the public interest test, within 40 working days of receiving the complaint.
If it becomes clear at any stage of the internal review that the deadline set is unlikely to be met, you will be notified and a secondary deadline will be set, by which the review panel should make every effort to abide.
Result of an Internal Review
An internal review can have two outcomes:
the original decision is confirmed
the complaint is upheld
Where the complaint is upheld, you will be informed by the panel and made aware of when you can expect any (further) information requested to be provided.
Where the original decision is confirmed, you will also be notified by the panel.
If you are still dissatisfied, you have the right to pass the matter onto the Information Commissioner’s Office: http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx