Under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act) if an application includes any documents containing the applicant’s personal information then the applicant must provide evidence of their identity. Under the Information Privacy Act 2009 (Qld) (IP Act), all applications must be accompanied by the applicant’s evidence of identity.1
If the applicant nominates someone to make an application for documents containing the applicant’s personal information on their behalf—called an agent—the agent must also provide evidence of identity, along with evidence of their authority to act as an agent for the applicant.2
These requirements only apply if the application is to access or amend documents that contain the applicant’s personal information.3
There is no obligation to provide evidence of identity or agent authorisation if an RTI application does not involve the applicant's personal information.
The RTI and IP Act accept the same kinds of identity documents for the applicant and the agent. Valid forms of ID under the RTI and IP Act are documents ‘verifying the person's identity'4. This includes:
This list is not exhaustive and other documents may also satisfy the requirement to provide evidence of an applicant’s or agent’s identity, such as an adult proof of age card. In some cases, a letter printed on the law firm's letterhead and signed by the principal of the firm may be sufficient to verify a legal representative’s identity as the agent.
Documents that will establish an agent's authority may include5:
This not an exhaustive list and other documents can establish an agent’s authority.
Generally, evidence of an agent's authority should:
If the agency has public facing offices, the original identification documents could be shown to an agency officer, who could make a file note confirming the original document has been sighted. There is also an area on the application form where the officer and confirm the original identification was sighted.
There is no need to photocopy the evidence of identity document, however, the agency may wish to take a copy of an agent authority.
The most common method of providing evidence of identity is by way of a certified copy. A photocopy of the evidence of identity document must be certified as a correct copy of the original by a ‘qualified witness’ which means a Justice of the Peace, lawyer, Commissioner for Declarations or notary public.8
Under no circumstances can a qualified witness certify their own identification.
The only exception to the 'qualified witness requirement' is where the evidence of identity is a prisoner identity card. These will be certified by a corrective services officer and not a qualified witness.
There is no requirement for a copy of an agent’s authority to be certified by a qualified witness.
The RTI Act and the IP Act do not specify how copies of evidence of identity documents are to be given to an agency. If the agency allows, they can be provided electronically, such as by email or fax.
The Electronic Transactions (Queensland) Act 20019 provides that where a State law requires or permits the production of a paper document an electronic version may be provided if the following conditions are met:10
It is up to each agency to decide whether it is appropriate to accept identity documents electronically, taking into account any general restrictions about receipt of sensitive personal information documents. However allowing these documents to be provided electronically can help simplify the application process.
On some applications that have an applicant and agent, or child and parent, the agent or parent will ask someone else to deal with the agency. This ‘second agent’ will often be a lawyer, but not always. Sometimes, particularly in the case of a parent applying on behalf of a child, it may be another family member.
There is nothing in the Act that prevents this. For these applications, agencies will need to first satisfy the identity and authority requirements of the Act in relation to the applicant and agent or parent and child. Then they will need to decide, as a matter of policy, what they require to satisfy themselves that the second agent is properly authorised to represent the parent or agent.
Where the applicant is a child, written confirmation from the parent that the second agent is acting for them may be sufficient. Where the applicant is an adult, the agency may want confirmation from the applicant as well as the first agent that the second agent is authorised to deal with the agency in relation to the application. Where the second agent is a lawyer, confirmation on firm letterhead that the lawyer is acting for the agent or parent may be enough to satisfy the agency.
If any of the aspects of the evidence of identity and authority do not satisfy the legislative requirements (for example, the copy of evidence of identity is not certified or the agent's authorisation has not been suitably established) then the agency should follow the noncompliant application process. Refer to Noncompliant Applications for more information.
If the application does not seek access to documents containing the applicant's personal information:
However, if an agent applies for sensitive information about the applicant, such as confidential information about the company that they claim to be acting for, and the agency has concerns about the agent's authority to act, then those concerns may be into account when making the access decision.
Before doing so, however, it would be reasonable for the agency to speak with the agent explaining those concerns, the possible ramifications on the decision and ask them to provide proof of their authority to act for the applicant. However, the agent is not required to provide evidence of authority, and the application will be valid even if they refuse, as it is not a requirement of the RTI Act.
Current as at: October 14, 2020