The Justice Committee’s report on Courts and Tribunal Fees has endorsed the proposal, made by the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information that the right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) under the Freedom of Information Act should be abolished. The Committee does not appear to have examined the case for this change itself. It simply reported that it saw no reason to disagree with the Commission’s view. The Campaign believes that if the proposal went ahead, it would significantly undermine the operation of the Act.
Our concerns were raised in the House of Commons by the Labour MP Andy Slaughter during a debate on the Committee’s report:
In my experience—including my experience as a litigant: I have been a frequent user of the Freedom of Information Act, and have gone through all those stages, up to the First-tier Tribunal—it is an absolutely necessary safeguard. The Information Commissioner does a good job although he is under-resourced, and, generally speaking, the independent commission did not come up with the horrors that we all thought it was going to come up with, such as charging more, restricting access, or in other ways trying to discourage freedom of information requests. Nevertheless, the appeal to the First-tier Tribunal is an extremely important stage of the process.
Read the Campaign’s briefing for the debate.