Freedom of Information Requests

Your rights

The Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (FOI Act) only applies to documents of the Federal Court which relate to the management and administration of the Court’s registry and office resources (see section 5(1), FOI Act). For ease of reference, this very limited range of documents will be referred to as 'applicable' documents in what follows below:

Sections 17 and Part VAA (Sections 37AA to 37AL) of the Federal Court of Australia Act 1976 and Rule 2.32 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 govern access to court documents (which are exempt from the FOI Act).

The FOI Act, in relation to applicable documents held by the Court gives an person the right to:

  • access copies of applicable documents the Court holds;
  • ask for applicable information about the person making the request to be changed or annotated if it is incomplete, out of date, incorrect or misleading; and
  • seek a review of any decision not to allow access to an applicable document or not to amend a person’s personal record.

Under the FOI Act you can ask to see any document relating to the management and administration of the Court’s registry and office resources that the Court holds. Access can be refused to documents, or parts of documents, that are exempt. Exempt documents may include those relating to national security, documents containing material obtained in confidence, Cabinet documents, or other matters set out in the FOI Act.

The FOI Act also does not apply to any document of a judicial officer (see paragraph 5(1)(b), FOI Act) or any document of the Court relating to the consideration or handling of a complaint about a judicial officer (see subsection 5(1A), FOI Act).

Documents available outside the FOI Act

The FOI Act does not apply to court documents, including transcript. You can find further information about access to:

These pages also include information about:

  • fees and charges for access to or purchase of court documents and transcript
  • exemptions and reductions in the fees and charges
  • alternative ways of accessing transcript.

The Court may be prepared to make applicable documents or information about the management and administration of the Court's registry and office resources available to you, without following a formal process under the FOI Act. You can contact the FOI Contact Officer by post, email or fax to enquire if information or documents can be made available without you having to make a formal request.

You should also check the information the Court has published under the Information Publication Scheme and FOI disclosure log to see if what you are seeking is already publicly available.

How to make a formal FOI request

Your request under the FOI Act to the Court for access to documents relating to the management and administration of the Court's registry and office resources must:

  • be in writing
  • state that the request is an application for the purposes of the FOI Act
  • provide information about the document(s) to assist us to process your request
  • provide an address for reply.

You can send your request to the Court’s FOI Contact Officer.

If you ask another person to make an FOI request on your behalf, you need to provide a specific, written authority to send copies of documents to you, care of that person, or to allow that person to inspect copies of documents containing information about you.

If you require assistance with your request, please contact the FOI Contact Officer by phone on 02 9230 8336 or by email at foi@fedcourt.gov.au.

Fees and charges

There is no application fee for an FOI request.

There are no processing charges for requests for access to documents containing only personal information about you. However, processing charges may apply to other requests. The most common charges are:

Activity item
Charge
Search and retrieval: time spent searching for or retrieving a document $15.00 per hour
Decision making: time spent in deciding to grant or refuse a request, including examining documents, consulting with other parties, and making deletions First five hours: Nil

Subsequent hours: $20 per hour
Transcript: preparing a transcript from a sound recording, shorthand or similar medium $4.40 per page of transcript
Photocopy $0.10 per page
Inspection: supervision by a court officer of your inspection of documents or hearing or viewing an audio or visual recording at our premises $6.25 per half hour (or part thereof)
Delivery: posting or delivering a copy of a document at your request Cost of postage or delivery

If the Court decides to impose a charge, you will be given a written estimate and the basis of the calculation. Where the estimated charge is between $20 and $100, you may be asked to pay a deposit of $20, or where the estimated charge exceeds $100, you may be asked to pay a 25% deposit before your request is processed.

You can ask for the charge to be waived or reduced for any reason, including financial hardship or on the grounds of public interest. If you do so, you should explain your reasons and you may need to provide some evidence.

What you can expect from the Court

You will be told within 14 days that the Court has received your request. You will also be given an estimate of the charges that apply to your request. You will be given a decision about your request within 30 days unless that time has been extended. If a document contains information about another person, the Court will need to consult them and may need to extend the time to give you a decision by another 30 days. The Court may also ask for your agreement to extend the time by up to 30 days if your request is complex.

If you disagree with the decision on your request

When a decision is made about your FOI request, the Court will send you a letter explaining its decision and your review and appeal rights.

You can ask for the following decisions to be reviewed:

  • if you are refused access to all or part of a document or if access is deferred
  • if a charge is imposed
  • if a request to change or annotate information about you that you claim is incomplete, incorrect, out of date or misleading is refused.

Another person who disagrees with a decision to give you documents that contain information about them can also ask for that decision to be reviewed.

Internal review

You can request in writing that the Court reconsider its decision through an internal review. An internal review will be conducted by another officer from the Court. You will be advised of the new decision within 30 days of the Court receiving your request.

Information Commissioner review

You can ask the Australian Information Commissioner to review the Court’s original decision or its internal review decision within 60 days of the date of decision (or 30 days after you are notified if you are another person affected by the decision). The Information Commissioner can affirm or vary the decision or substitute a new decision. The Information Commissioner may decide not to conduct a review in certain circumstances. More information is available at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) website.

Complaints

If you are unhappy with the way the Court has handled your request, you can complain to the Australian Information Commissioner who may investigate the Court’s actions. More information is available on the OAIC’s website. The Commonwealth Ombudsman can also investigate complaints about the Court actions in dealing with your request. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner will talk to each other to avoid the same matter being investigated twice.

More information

If you require more information, please contact the FOI Contact Officer by phone on 02 9230 8336 or by email at foi@fedcourt.gov.au.

Certain documents that the Court has released under the FOI Act can be obtained at our FOI disclosure log page. Information about our Information Publication Scheme can be obtained at www.fedcourt.gov.au/ips.

Updated 2 January 2014