How to appeal guidance for Information Rights Tribunal
If you disagree with a notice you have received from the Information Commissioner, you can appeal to the First–tier Tribunal (Information Rights). Please note that we do not deal with complaints against the Information Commissioner. If you do have a complaint about the Information Commissioner you need to write to him. Details can be found on the Information Commissioner's Office website.
You should send your completed Notice of Appeal form to us within 28 days of when the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) Decision Notice was sent to you. You do not have to use this form but it will help you to make sure that you give the Tribunal all the information it needs. To further help you complete the form correctly, refer to the Explanatory notes for completing the Notice of Appeal form.
People who bring an appeal to the Tribunal without legal representation are often called: Litigants in Person. The Guidance for individuals representing themselves document will help you understand the process that your appeal will follow. It is set out in the form of questions and answers and includes a Glossary of terms and phrases you may not be familiar with. It is recommended that a Litigant in Person reads the guidance notes before submitting their Notice of Appeal form.
In some instances another party may ask, or be asked by the Tribunal Judge, to be joined to the appeal. An example of this is the Public Authority originally approached for information. If there is any information in your appeal papers that you do not want other parties to see, you must make sure that you let the Tribunal know.
If any of your details change, for example, you move house or appoint a legal representative, you must tell the Tribunal.
You should send your Notice of Appeal (NOA) to us within 28 days of the Commissioner’s Decision Notice being sent to you. If you wish to submit an appeal outside of this time limit, you can do so, but you must provide good reasons for the delay – there is a section in the appeal form to help you with this.
Alternatively you can apply for an extension of time before lodging a formal appeal. Where you realise you need more time to consider whether or not to appeal or to draft the grounds of appeal because of the complexity of the decision notice or because you will be away say on holiday during the 28 day period then you should write to the Tribunal as soon as possible requesting an extension of time to lodge the appeal.
In your request you should explain why you want extra time and the date by which you will be able to submit your appeal. For a further explanation of what is involved see the Rulings in Prof Sikka v Information Commissioner dated 9 April and 19 May 2010. (PDF 0.3Mb)
Please note that we cannot deal with complaints you have about a public authority or any other party. We only hear appeals from decisions made by the Information Commissioner.
When we receive your Notice of Appeal form, we will check to make sure it contains the necessary information required under the rules of procedure.
The Information Commissioner will respond to the Notice of Appeal within 28 days and will send a copy of his response to you.
We will deal with your appeal as quickly as possible, but this depends on the cooperation of all parties involved. The actual timescale between us receiving the Notice of Appeal and the hearing will often depend on whether you wish for a paper or oral hearing.
Mandatory and discretionary transfers
Under the Rules of Procedure the First—tier Tribunal is required to transfer certain national security cases to the Upper Tribunal – see National Security Appeals Panel (link below). Also the FTT can recommend to the Chamber President of the GRC that some cases should be transferred to the Administrative Appeals Chamber (AAC) of the Upper Tribunal. He can then consult with the Chamber President of the AAC as to whether it would be appropriate to transfer the case to be heard in the first instance before the AAC. The Chambers have produced a joint office note which explains the process.
From time to time the GRC will issue Practice notes to explain more fully how we apply the rules.
Practice Notes - Permission to Appeal (PDF 0.2Mb)
Practice Notes - Form of Decisions (PDF 0.2Mb)
Explanation of the directions (PDF 0.3Mb)
Guidance for unrepresented parties
Individuals representing themselves in Information Rights cases may find these guidance notes helpful.
The First–tier Tribunal is accustomed to dealing with cases where appellants do not have legal representation. The Information Commissioner and public authority (if a party to the appeal) will usually be represented by a barrister or counsel. There is no legal aid available for cases before the Information Tribunal.
Legal aid for representation is not available for first-instance appeals in Information Rights cases. Unlike courts, most tribunals question the user to find out relevant information rather than relying on the user to present an argument. This means that users of tribunals should be able to present evidence by themselves, and for this reason legal representation should be unnecessary.
However the following organisations may be able to provide you with help with your First-tier Tribunal case. Please note that the First-tier Tribunal does not endorse, and cannot recommend any particular organisation. It is a matter for you whether or not to seek any advice from them or to accept it, if offered.
The Bar Pro Bono Unit is a national charity matching barristers prepared to undertake pro bono work with those who need their help.
LawWorks is a national charity matching solicitors prepared to undertake pro bono work with those who need their help.
Tel: 020 7092 3940
Friends of the Earth's Rights and Justice Centre, provides free advice to members of the public in relation to their rights under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and is able to represent requesters at appeals before the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) in appropriate cases.
Tel: 0808 801 0405 (Wednesday evenings only 6.30pm - 8.30pm)
Email: Friends of the Earth's Rights and Justice Centre