It’s going to become much harder to appeal against decisions on Freedom of Information requests as the Ministry of Justice is slyly trying to introduce fees to appeals.

The proposed fees, which would apply to appeals to the First and Upper Tier Tribunals, have been announced in a Ministry of Justice consultation.

If a requester wanted to appeal a decision of the Information Commissioner’s Office to the tribunal then they would be charged £100.

If it’s decided that an oral hearing is needed, which is often the preference of requesters, then there’ll be an additional fee of £500.

These fees would undoubtedly put off many requesters from pursuing what they believe is an incorrect decision from the ICO.

Tim Turner sums it up well:

Panopticon, the blog of law firm 11KBW, thankfully, picked up on the consultation – while everyone else has been focussed on the government’s FOI Commission – and wrote the following: 

Contained within a document which is also the Government’s Response to an earlier consultation exercise on raising fees in various aspects of civil litigation (also problematic, but not relevant here) is a consultation is the introduction, for the first time, of fees to use certain parts of the First-tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal. The Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) is not within the scope of the proposal – although there is no explanation as to why not – but the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) is.

The proposal is that there will be a £100 fee for an appeal to be issued, and a further £500 fee if an oral hearing takes place. Cases referred to the Upper Tribunal under rule 19 of the GRC Rules will also be subject to the same fee. There will be a system of remissions in place.

I am a journalist and author. I am a journalist at the UK edition of WIRED magazine. In 2015, my first book Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. My second book Reed Hastings: Building Netflix, was published in March 2020. I created FOI Directory in 2012 and have maintained it in my spare time ever since.