General internal review request

When authorities reply to requests they often use a template sections in their answers. Requesters, to an extent, can do the same when asking for information.

The following two templates may be used when applying to a public authority for an internal review of an FOI request. Find out more about how to complain here.  

All requests for internal reviews should be tailored to the authority, the particular information requested, and the exemptions that have applied. 

Dear [Authority name]

I write in reference to my previous FOI request [Insert reference number given by the authority here].

Please may you conduct an internal review of the decision to withhold information in the request referenced above.

I am asking for an internal review because of the following reasons:

[Insert reasons why you are complaining, relating to misuse of the exemptions, etc]

I am aware that guidance from the Information Commissioner, in ‘The Guide to Freedom of Information’, says that internal reviews should (in most cases) be completed within 20 working days.

I look forward to receiving your response in line with the Commissioner’s guidance.

Best regards,

[Name]

Public Interest Internal Review

When challenging the balancing of the public interest test there are some certain areas, which may be in favour of disclosure.

Any arguments that you put forward in relation to the public interest test should be as specific as possible to the information, and the need for it to be disclosed.

More detailed and exemption specific factors detailing why it is in the public interest to disclose the information will increase the chance of disclosure. These are outlined in Chapter 4.

In many cases challenging the outcome of a request will involve challenging the balancing of the public interest and also the application of exemptions.

All requests for internal reviews should be tailored to the authority, the particular information requested, and the exemptions that have applied. 

Dear [Authority name]

I am writing in reference to my previous FOI request [Inset reference number given by the authority here].

Please may you conduct an internal review of all areas of the refusal. However in particular please can you re-consider the balancing of the public interest test, as I believe that the public interest in maintaining the exemption does not outweigh the interest in disclosure in all circumstances.

In particular please consider the following circumstances in your review of the balancing of the public interest test.

[The following are general areas of public interest considerations that you may be able to apply to the individual circumstances of the request. The more specific arguments that can me made, the better.

  • Expand on any specific areas of transparency.
  • Expand on any specific areas of accountability.
  • Expand on any specific reasons for promoting public understanding.
  • Expand on any specific reasons safeguarding the democratic process.
  • Expand on any specific benefits of good decision making by public bodies.
  • Expand on any specific areas of upholding standards of integrity.
  • Expand on any specific areas of ensuring justice and fair treatment.
  • Expand on any specific areas of securing the best use of public resources.
  • Expand on any specific areas of ensuring fair commercial competition.
  • Expand on any specific areas of suspicion of wrongdoing.
  • Expand on any specific areas of information in the public domain is wrong.

I am aware that guidance from the Information Commissioner, in ‘The Guide to Freedom of Information’, says that internal reviews should be completed within 20 working days, or in exceptional circumstances 40 working days should be allowed.

I look forward to receiving your response in line with the Commissioner’s guidance.

Best regards,

[Name]


 

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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