Mental Health Commission

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Freedom of Information

What are Freedom of Information requests?

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 gives you the right to access records held by the Mental Health Commission (MHC). Such requests may be for personal or non-personal (i.e. corporate) records.

Access request for personal records

The MHC is a Freedom of Information (FOI) body. As an FOI body, the MHC welcomes requests for personal records. You may request, for example, the following items:

  • any records held by the MHC relating to you personally, irrespective of when they were created

  • all other records created after 21 April 1998 (which is the commencement date of Freedom of Information legislation in Ireland)

  • any additional information which may be required to assist in the understanding of a current record

You have the right to have your personal records amended or deleted where the information is found to be incorrect or misleading. You also have the right to seek reasons for decisions that affect/have affected you.

Access request for non-personal records

As an FOI body, the MHC welcomes requests for non-personal records. In general, these requests focus on corporate information. Where non-personal requests are made, the timeframe for acknowledgement and delivery is the same as for personal records. As access is not sought into personal records, identification is not required.

How to make an FOI request

Your request must be in writing. In making your request, you are asked to

  • state that you are making a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2014
  • provide as much information as possible about the records you seek access to
  • specify how you would like to receive these records (that is, whether you would like to receive them by post or by email)

Sending in your FOI request

Your request can be sent by post or by email to the following addresses:

FOI Officer

Form

Alternatively, you may use the FOI Application form

Third party authorisation (personal records only)

When making an access request for personal records, you may request that your records be sent to a third party who you appoint (e.g. a solicitor, health professional, family member, etc.). If you choose to do so, you must complete this form and attach it to your letter, email or FOI Application form.

Identification (personal records only)

To gain access to personal information, you are required to provide proof of identity. This is requested to ensure that information is released to the correct person and sent to the correct postal or email address. Items of identification required are

  • a copy of identification bearing your full name and photograph (e.g. your passport, driver’s licence, etc.)
  • proof of your address to which the materials will be sent (e.g. the top of a utility bill bearing both your name and address) – this must be less than six months old

Timeframe

A decision on your request will normally be made within four weeks. This is where a week is defined as five working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays.

Acknowledgement of request

Receipt of your request will be acknowledged within ten working days (where a week is defined as five working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays). At this time, you will be advised as to when you may expect to receive a decision on your request.

Exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2014

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 sets out a series of exemptions to protect sensitive information where its disclosure may damage key interests of the State and/or third parties. This means that there are specific circumstances where the requested information will not be released (e.g. to protect confidentiality, etc.). If any of these exemptions are applied to withhold information, the reasons will be clearly explained to you when you receive the decision on your request.

Right to an internal review of initial decision

You may seek an internal review of the initial decision. This review will involve a complete reconsideration of the matter by a more senior member of staff at the MHC to the person who made the initial decision. Reasons for seeking an internal review include where you

  • are dissatisfied with the initial response received (e.g. refusal of information, form of access, charges, etc.); or
  • did not receive a reply within the specified four weeks of the initial application (this is known as a ‘deemed refusal’ and, where this occurs, you are allowed to proceed to an internal review)

A request for an internal review must be submitted within four weeks from the date of the initial decision to your request (although late appeals may be permitted in certain circumstances). The FOI Appeals Officer must complete the review within three weeks (where a week is defined as five working days, excluding weekends and bank holidays). An internal review must normally be completed before an appeal may be made to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC).

 The decision as a result of the internal review will be communicated to you within three weeks of receipt of your request to appeal. 

Your request can be sent by post or by email to the following addresses:

FOI Appeals Officer

The fee for an internal review under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act is €30 (€10 for medical card holders and their dependents). No fee is charged for an internal review concerning access to personal records belonging to the requester.

Appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC)

Once the internal review process has been completed, you may appeal the decision within six months by writing to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC). If you make an appeal, the OIC will fully investigate the matter and issue a fresh decision.

Your request can be sent by post or made online:

OIC

The fee for appeals to the OIC under Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 is €50 (€15 for medical card holders and their dependents).

Fees applicable to FOI requests

The €15 application fee has been abolished. Fees may be charged, however, for the search, retrieval and copying of records requested. This process involves the following stages:

  • locating the broad set of records in which those requested might be found
  • identifying, extracting and assembling the particular records sought for examination

Please note that fees for the estimated cost of searching, retrieval and copying of records will only be charged with respect to records being released. The current charges are €20 for each hour spent searching for, and retrieving, records and €0.04 per sheet for a photocopy of the records released.

Estimating the cost for search, retrieval and copying fees

Fees may be charged for the search, retrieval and copying of records. The following table sets out the bases upon which such fees are calculated.

Costs FOI

In cases where search, retrieval and copying fees apply, the MHC is obliged to charge the requester a deposit of at least 20% of the estimated cost.

Please note there is no fee charged for access to a personal record relating to you.

Contact Details

Waterloo Exchange, Waterloo Road, Dublin 4

Ph: 353(1) 636 2400

Fax: 353(1) 636 2440

Eircode: D04 E5W7

GPS coordinates: 53°19'58.6"N 6°14'36.9"W