Freedom of Information Act, 1997

Publication of information regarding rules and practices in relation to certain decisions by public bodies.

16.—(1) A public body shall cause to be prepared and published and to be made available in accordance with subsection (5)

(a) the rules, procedures, practices, guidelines and interpretations used by the body, and an index of any precedents kept by the body, for the purposes of decisions, determinations or recommendations, under or for the purposes of any enactment or scheme administered by the body with respect to rights, privileges, benefits, obligations, penalties or other sanctions to which members of the public are or may be entitled or subject under the enactment or scheme, and

(b) appropriate information in relation to the manner or intended manner of administration of any such enactment or scheme.

(2) A publication prepared under subsection (1) shall be made available in accordance with subsection (5)

(a) in case the body concerned is a body specified in paragraph 1 (other than subparagraph (3), (4) or (5)) of the First Schedule , upon the commencement of this Act,

(b) in case the body is a local authority, upon the commencement of the said subparagraph (3),

(c) in case the body is a health board, upon the commencement of the said subparagraph (4), and

(d) in case the body is a body standing prescribed under section 3 for the purposes of the said subparagraph (5), upon such prescription,

and thereafter a version, appropriately revised, of the publication shall be prepared and published and shall be made available as aforesaid by the body not less frequently than 3 years after the latest such publication was so made available by the body and as soon as may be after any significant alterations or additions fall to be made in or to the latest such publication so made available.

(3) If the material specified in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) is not published and made available in accordance with this section or the material so published and purporting to be the material aforesaid is incomplete or inaccurate and a person shows—

(a) that he or she was not aware of a rule, procedure, practice, guideline, interpretation or precedent referred to in subsection (1) (a) (“the rule”) or of a particular requirement of the rule, and

(b) that, but for such non-publication, non-availability, incompleteness or incorrectness, as the case may be, he or she would have been so aware,

the public body concerned shall, if and in so far as it is practicable to do so, ensure that the person is not subjected to any prejudice (not being a penalty imposed by a court upon conviction of an offence) by reason only of the application of the rule or requirement if the person could lawfully have avoided that prejudice if he or she had been aware of the rule or requirement.

(4) Subsection (3) shall not apply in a case where the public body concerned shows that reasonable steps were taken by it to bring the rule or requirement concerned to the notice of those affected by it.

(5) A publication referred to in subsection (1) or (2) shall be made available for inspection free of charge, and for removal free of charge or, at the discretion of the head concerned, for purchase, at such places as the head concerned may determine and the head shall cause notice of those places to be published in such manner as he or she considers adequate for the purposes of this section and if the publication relates to a local authority or a health board, a copy of it shall be given to each member of the authority or board.

(6) A precedent referred to in an index specified in subsection (1) shall, on request therefor to the public body concerned, be made available to the person concerned in accordance with subsection (5).

(7) Subsection (1) does not apply to any matter by reason of which a record in which it is included is an exempt record.