Extract: Freedom of Information Act 1982
11A Access to documents on request
(1) This section applies if:
(a) a request is made by a person, in accordance with subsection 15(2), to an agency or Minister
for access to:
(i) a document of the agency; or
(ii) an official document of the Minister; and
(b) any charge that, under the regulations, is required to be paid before access is given has been
(2) This section applies subject to this Act.
Other provisions of this Act are relevant to decisions about access to documents, for example the
(a) section 12 (documents otherwise available);
(b) section 13 (documents in national institutions);
(c) section 15A (personnel records);
(d) section 22 (access to edited copies with exempt or irrelevant matter deleted).
Mandatory access—general rule
(3) The agency or Minister must give the person access to the document in accordance with this Act,
subject to this section.
Exemptions and conditional exemptions
(4) The agency or Minister is not required by this Act to give the person access to the document at a
particular time if, at that time, the document is an exempt document.
Access may be given to an exempt document apart from under this Act, whether or not in response to a
request (see section 3A (objects—information or documents otherwise accessible)).
(5) The agency or Minister must give the person access to the document if it is conditionally exempt
at a particular time unless (in the circumstances) access to the document at that time would, on
balance, be contrary to the public interest.
Note 1: Division 3 of Part IV provides for when a document is conditionally exempt.
Note 2: A conditionally exempt document is an exempt document if access to the document would, on balance,
be contrary to the public interest (see section 31B (exempt documents for the purposes of Part IV)).
Note 3: Section 11B deals with when it is contrary to the public interest to give a person access to the
(6) Despite subsection (5), the agency or Minister is not required to give access to the document at a
particular time if, at that time, the document is both:
(a) a conditionally exempt document; and
(b) an exempt document:
(i) under Division 2 of Part IV (exemptions); or
(ii) within the meaning of paragraph (b) or (c) of the definition of exempt document