Review of Decisions
There are two stages to the review process. The first is an internal review, and the second is an external review. Internal review can happen where a decision has been made by a delegated officer, not the principal officer – the Minister or the Principal Officer of the public authority (s43(1)). An application must be made within 20 working days after notice of the decision. This application will then be considered by the Minister or Principal Officer. A request for a review of a refusal for personal information must be made within 10 days of notice (s43(2)).The time limit for a response is 15 working days.
A request for an external review goes to the Ombudsman, only after there has been an internal review (s44). An applicant can go straight to external review if the initial request was decided by the Minister or Principal Officer. The applicant has 20 days from being informed of the result of an internal review, or after 15 days has elapsed since the application for an internal review was lodged, to make an application for external review (s44(2)). Section 45 sets out other grounds for external review applications to the Ombudsman not covered by section 43.
The Ombudsman has extensive powers to settle reviews (s47), and the review published by the Ombudsman must provide written copies to all parties. If the Ombudsman intends to make a decision adverse to a public authority or Minister s/he must make a draft of the decision available to the affected party (s48(1)). In any other case, the draft must be made available to both parties involved (s48(2)). Final decisions can only be reviewed for accidental mistakes or omissions (s48(3)). As with the initial decision maker, the Ombudsman cannot include any exempt information in the decision, and can decide whether to confirm or deny the existence of the information requested.