Overview of sections 47(3)(e) and 52(1) RTI Act

Section summary

Under section 47(3)(e) of the RTI Act, access may be refused to a document that is nonexistent or unlocatable as mentioned in section 52.

A document will be nonexistent or unlocatable under section 52 of the RTI Act if the agency or Minister is satisfied that:

  • the document does not exist; or
  • the document has been or should be in the agency or Minister's possession and all reasonable steps have been taken to find the document but the document cannot be found.

Ordinarily sections 52(1)(a) and 52(1)(b) are mutually exclusive.1


This section replicates section 28A of the repealed FOI Act with no substantive changes.

Other relevant RTI/IP Act sections

Section 29 RTI Act
Under section 29 of the RTI Act, an agency or Minister is not required to search a backup system for documents relevant to an access application.

However, before refusing access to certain documents under section 52 of the RTI Act, section 52(2) requires an agency or Minister to search for a document from a backup system if the agency or Minister considers that the document has been kept in, and is retrievable from, the back up system.

  • 1 Master N and Department of Education and Training (Unreported, Queensland Information Commissioner, 22 December 2010) at paragraph 37. [up]

Last updated: March 16, 2012