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If your question isn’t answered here, or you just wanted to let us know something about the site, contact us.

Appeals to the Regulator #

What are the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner (OSIC)? #

The ICO is the public body set up to uphold your information rights in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The OSIC has a similar role for public authorities in Scotland.

If a public authority ignores your FOI request or says 'no', you can ask the ICO or the OSIC to step in. They'll look into it and decide what should happen next.

Both the ICO and the OSIC are there to help ensure that authorities are open and transparent, so please don't hesitate to use their services if you feel that your FOI request hasn't been properly dealt with.

When should I appeal to the ICO or the OSIC? #

We’ve got some specific guidance about what to do if the public authority hasn’t responded to your request at all.

If a public authority has refused your request and you think they're wrong to do so, you should ask them to reconsider. They will carry out an internal review. If you're still unhappy with the response to your request after the review has been carried out, or you’ve had no response to your request for a review, you can ask the ICO or OSIC to take a look.

Do I have to pay to appeal to the ICO or the OSIC? #

No, making an appeal to the ICO or the OSIC is completely free.

How do I appeal to the ICO or the OSIC? #

You can complain to the ICO by email at icocasework@ico.org.uk or using their online form.

Although the ICO form asks you to attach copies of any correspondence that you have had with the authority, all you need to do is include a link to your request on WhatDoTheyKnow.

If you made your request to a Scottish Public Authority, you can complain to the OSIC by email at enquiries@ItsPublicKnowledge.info.

They provide an application form for you to use if you wish to do so. They will need to see a copy of your request and a copy of your request for an internal review, so make sure to include a link to your request as part of your complaint.

You will need to explain why you are unhappy with the response to your request. If you think that the public authority has wrongly applied any exemptions, then you should say so. You may also want to include any factors that show that the public interest favours the disclosure of the information that you have asked for.

How long do they take to make a decision? #

The time can vary depending on the complexity of your case and the current caseload of the regulator. It can take several months for them to reach a decision.

Is there a way to speed up the process? #

Unfortunately, there's no guaranteed way to speed up the process. Until recently, the ICO and the Scottish Information Commissioner treated each case with the same level of importance and reviewed them in the order they're received.

The ICO will now give higher priority to cases that it considers to be in the public interest. You can read more about this process on their website. If you think this applies to your case, make sure to include reasoning about this in your appeal.

Can they enforce their decision? #

Yes, the ICO and the Scottish Information Commissioner can enforce their decisions. A decision notice is legally binding on the public authority, and they have a certain amount of time to appeal or comply. If they do not, they may be in contempt of court.

I’ve got a decision, now what? #

If the ICO or OSIC has ruled in your favour, well done! If it’s been a while since you made your request, please contact us, so we can ensure that you’ll receive any information released by the authority without any unnecessary delays.

If you're not happy with the ICO’s decision, you have the right to appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) within 28 days of the decision being made.

If you are unhappy with a decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner, you can appeal to the Court of Session

Do the ICO and OSIC investigate complaints about requests made to them? #

The ICO can (and does) investigate complaints about its own handling of FOI requests. You can’t complain to the OSIC about an FOI response by the Scottish Information Commissioner, and will need to appeal directly to the court of session.

Changes #

We keep these pages under review, and may make changes from time to time to ensure that they remain up-to-date and accurate. You can find a synopsis of changes we’ve made at our GitHub repository but if you have any questions, please do contact us.