Following the passing of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2014, Minister Howlin has made Regulations prescribing fees and charges in respect of FOI requests, and applications for review of decisions of FOI bodies. The Regulations came into operation on 16 October 2014. Requests for personal information will continue to be free except in very rare cases where the grant relates to a significant number of records.
New Fees include:
- €20 per hour for search and retrieval
- A minimum threshold of €100 search, retrieval and copying (SRC) fee, below which not SRC fees would be charged
- A cap on SRC fees at €500 (25 hours)
- Overall ceiling limit of €700 on SRC fees (35 hours) above which an FOI body could refuse to process a request (or if the requester agreed, the request could be processed with full fees applying without limit)
- Copying fees are:o 4 cents per sheet for a photocopyo €10 for a CD ROMo €6 for an x-ray
- Abolishment of upfront €15 FOI application fee
- €30 charge for internal review
- €50 charge for appeal to the Information Commissioner (IC)
Meaning of "Search and Retrieval"
The Act provides a definition of "Search and Retrieval" activities so as to ensure that there is clarity on the activities for which SRC fees can be charged. It essentially includes all activities carried out leading up to the finalisation of a file containing the records for review by the decision-maker prior to release.
The Act states that it includes: "time spent by the FOI body in -
"(a) determining whether it holds the information requested,
(b) locating the information or documents containing the information,
(c) retrieving such information or documents;
(d) extracting the information from the files, documents, electronic or other information sources containing both it and other material not relevant to the request, and
(e) preparing a schedule specifying the records for consideration for release."