Accessing documents to pursue a legal remedy

Under the Right to Information Act 20091 (Qld) (RTI Act), people have the right to be given access to documents held by Queensland government agencies.  This right of access is subject to some limitations and access to information can be refused if it would be contrary to the public interest to disclose.

Applying for documents to pursue a legal remedy

There is no requirement to give reasons when you apply to access documents under the RTI Act. However, in some circumstances, your reasons for applying may impact on the decision to give or refuse you access to documents.  This may be the case where you are seeking access to documents to begin a court action to seek a legal remedy.


Examples of a legal remedy

  • Seeking compensation for injuries caused by a dog attack
  • Seeking compensation for property damage caused by a fire
  • Seeking compensation for damage arising out of a motor vehicle accident

Public interest factor: administration of justice

The RTI Act contains lists of public interest factors, both for and against disclosure.  The agency will weigh up all the relevant factors for and against disclosure and decide if, on balance, releasing the information would be contrary to the public interest. One of the public interest factors favouring disclosure is that it contributes to the administration of justice, which can include the pursuit of a legal remedy.  Refer to What is the Public Interest for more information.

Will I get access to the documents?

The use to which you want to put the documents is just one of the factors the agency will take into consideration. The agency also has to consider factors against disclosure, such as those relating to privacy and the personal information of other individuals.  Whether you get access to the documents or not is going to depend on the extent to which the factors against disclosure outweigh the factors favouring disclosure.

Note

It will be important to provide the agency with information, and potentially evidence, about the legal remedy you want to pursue.  You will also need to tell them about the loss, damage, or wrong you have suffered and why there is no other option for you to get access to this information.

In order to properly take it into account when making its decision, the agency will need more than just your word that you intend to take legal action against someone.  You may need to discuss the matter in more detail with the agency when you make your application.


What if the agency refuses me access to the information?

If the agency refuses you access to some or all of the information you’ve requested, you will be given a decision which sets out the reasons. It will outline which public interest factors the decision maker has taken into consideration and the weight they have been given.

You should consider this decision notice carefully before deciding whether you should exercise your rights of review. If you decide to seek a review, you must do so within 20 business days of the date on the decision notice. For more information, refer to Explaining your Review Rights.


  • 1 And the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld).

Current as at: October 7, 2015