Application of section 86 RTI Act

Relevant considerations

1. Does the applicant seek review of a decision about the amount of a charge stated in a charges estimate notice?

The Information Commissioner has no jurisdiction to review the amount of a charge in a charges estimate notice. 'Charges estimate notice' is defined in section 36(7) of the RTI Act.

Nonetheless, the Information Commissioner may review an agency or Minister's decision as to whether a processing charge or access charge is payable in relation to access to a document, including a decision not to waive charges.1

a) Processing charges

Processing charges, in relation to an access application, are charges prescribed under a regulation for searching for or retrieving the document and making, or doing things relating to making, a decision on the application.2

Processing charges are not payable under the RTI Act if:

  • the agency decides to waive the processing charges on the basis that the applicant is in financial hardship3
  • the agency spends less than five hours processing an access application under the RTI Act4
  • the documents concern an applicant’s personal information5
  • the Information Commissioner grants an agency further time to deal with an application on the condition that processing charges are waived.6

b) Access charges

Access charges, in relation to an access application, are charges prescribed under a regulation in relation to giving access to the document.7

Generally, access charges are the actual costs incurred by an agency in giving access to a document. In most cases, the only access charges that will apply are for photocopying. However, photocopying charges will not be payable if:

  • access to a document is given by email8 or on compact discs9
  • an agency decides to waive the charges on the basis of financial hardship.
  • 1 Schedule 6 of the RTI Act defines 'reviewable decision'. [up]
  • 2 Section 56 of the RTI Act. [up]
  • 3 Section 66(2) of the RTI Act. [up]
  • 4 Section 5(1)(a) of the RTI Act. [up]
  • 5 Section 59 of the RTI Act. [up]
  • 6 Section 93(2) of the RTI Act. [up]
  • 7 Section 57 of the RTI Act. [up]
  • 8 Section 6(2)(a) of the RTI Act. [up]
  • 9 Section 6(2)(b) of the RTI Act. [up]

Last updated: March 16, 2012