Image: Surrey County Council News via Flickr / Creative Commons

The right to appeal Freedom of Information decisions under public interest grounds should be removed, a new report has recommended.

The ‘Changes to courts and tribunals fees’ report by the Justice Select Committee says that legislation should be introduced to “remove the right of appeal” to the First Tier Tribunal (FTT).

At present appeals against a decision, under the public interest, made by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can be made to the FTT.

Any new legislation abolishing the appeal right would mean that appeals against ICO decision would have to be made to the Upper Tribunal.

Appeals to this higher court can only be made on a point of law; not a public interest argument.

The report from the committee endorsed new legislation on the area, which was first suggested by the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information earlier this year.

“Where someone remained dissatisfied with the IC’s decision, an appeal would still lie to the Upper Tribunal.

“The Upper Tribunal appeal is not intended to replicate the full-merits appeal that currently exists before the IC and First-tier Tribunal, but is limited to a point of law.”

The government is yet to announce a position on any potential legislation but said when the Commission’s report was being published it would consider all recommendations.

Matt is a digital journalist, freelancer and has written a book on the Freedom of Information Act for journalists. He runs this site in his spare time aiming to help raise awareness of the Freedom of Information Act and its uses. He can be found tweeting @mattburgess1.


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