Access to Information

THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT 2002

Frequently Asked Questions

  • WHAT DOES THE ACT DO?
    • The Access to Information Act gives a general right of access to information records held by public authorities, except to the extent that such records are protected from disclosure by one of the nine (9) exemptions. The Act seeks to reinforce the basic principles of:
    • Government accountability
    • Transparency; and
    • Public participation in national decision-making.
  • WHAT DOES THE ACT COVER?
    • At present, only public authorities are covered by the Act. These include Government Ministries, Agencies and Departments, Statutory Bodies, Parish Councils, wholly-owned Government companies or those in which the Government has more than 50% shares, publicly-funded educational institutions.
  • WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS UNDER THE ATI ACT?
    • The ATI Act gives you the legal right to see official documents held by Government Bodies.  You may also ask for personal information to be changed if it is incomplete, misleading, out of date, or incorrect.
  • WHAT ARE OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS?
    • Official documents are documents in the possession, custody or control of a government body and which are connected to its functions.
  • CAN I SEE ALL OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS?
    • No.  There are documents which are exempt from disclosure under the Act.  These are documents which it is believed should not be disclosed in order to protect essential public interests or the private/business affairs of others.  Similar statutes internationally recognise these concerns as well and make similar provisions.
      Some exempt documents are however subject to public interest tests.  Release of exempt documents may also be achieved through an Order of the Minister responsible for Information or after the expiration of 20 years after their creation, or such shorter or longer period as the Minister may specify by Order.
  • WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DOCUMENTS WHICH ARE EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSURE?
    • Documents pertaining to:
    • Security, defense, international relations; (S.14(a))
    • The Cabinet; (S.15)
    • Law enforcement; (S.16)
    • Legal privilege; (S.17)
    • The national economy; (S.18)
    • Government’s deliberative processes;(S.19)
    • Business affairs of others (trade secrets, etc.) (S.20)
    • Personal privacy (S.22)
    • Heritage sites (S.21)
  • HOW DO I MAKE AN ATI REQUEST?
    • Identify the document you wish to have access to and the government body most likely to have it.  Write/phone in/email or fax your request giving as much information as possible about the document in order to help the Officer assigned for those purposes to quickly retrieve it.
      Include contact information which will allow the Officer responsible for ATI applications to remain in contact with you.  This will assist the Officer in obtaining clarifications from you and enable the observance of the timeline (30 days from receipt of Application) prescribed for finding and granting access as the case may be.
  • WHAT MUST A GOVERNMENT ENTITY DO WHEN IT GETS MY REQUEST?
    • Inform you in writing that it has so received it.
    • Deal with the Application as quickly as possible and inform you of any difficulties being experienced.  This will help both parties in possibly coming to a mutual workable understanding, particularly if the request is a complex one (e.g. large volume of documents requested) or where it will take longer than the prescribed time allowed within which to find the document.
    • Inform you within 30 days of receipt of the Application whether or not the information will be disclosed and grant access or inform you of your rights of appeal as the case may be.
  • HOW MUCH WILL IT COST ME?
    • Fees are payable for the reproduction of documents only.  You are not required to pay if you wish to view, inspect or listen to the document.  The following costs apply pursuant to the Access to Information (Cost for the Reproduction of Official Documents) Regulations 2003:

      FORMAT                                          COST

      Photocopy                                           $10.00 per page
      Transcript                                            $60.00 per page
      Computer print out                             $10.00 per page
      Photographs
      Black and White
      5” x 7”                                            $400.00
      8” x 10”                                          $500.00
      11” x 14”                                        $1,200.00
      16” x 20”                                       $2,000.00
      Colour
      5” x 7”                                           $300.00
      8” x 10”                                         $400.00
      11” x 14”                                       $2,000.00
      16” x 20”                                       $3,000.00
      Audiocassette                             $300.00 per cassette
      Video cassette                            $500.00 per cassette
      Diskette                                        $20.00 per diskette
      Compact disc                              $35.00 per disc
      Paper to Braille                           $60.00 per Braille page
      Diskette to Braille                       $40.00 per Braille page
      Microfilm duplication (35mm)            $1,500.00 per roll of 100ft microfilm; minimum order of 10ft at a cost of $150.00
      Microfilm duplication (16mm)            $380.00 per roll of 100ft microfilm; minimum order of 10ft at a cost of $38.00
      Microfilm print out                                  $20.00 per page

  • HOW WILL THE DOCUMENTS BE GIVEN TO ME?
    • Generally, in the form in which you request it – you may be allowed to view, listen to, inspect or be given a copy of the document.  However, access may be given in a form other than that which you have requested if there is a need to preserve the document or its physical state makes the form of access requested inappropriate.
  • CAN I HAVE DOCUMENTS ABOUT ME CORRECTED?
    • Yes, provided they have been or are being used by the government body for an administrative purpose.
  • HOW DO I ASK FOR THESE CORRECTIONS ABOUT ME TO BE DONE?
    • You apply by letter or on the prescribed application form.
  • WHAT KINDS OF APPEAL DO I HAVE?
    • You have a right of Appeal with respect to:
      • Refusal of a grant of access
      • The grant of access to only some of the documents requested
      • Deferral of the grant of access
      • Refusal to amend or annotate a personal record
      • The charging of, or amount of a fee

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