Information Commissioner’s guidance

Process: Investigating exemption and missing records complaints submitted together  

Updated November 6, 2018

Requesters may submit a complaint asking the Information Commissioner to investigate an institution’s use of exemptions and/or exclusions and whether additional records exist with reference to a single access request.

This guidance document sets out the process the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) follows when it receives this type of multi-faceted complaint.

1. Two complaints registered

First, the OIC registers two separate complaints, one for each aspect of the original complaint:

  • an exemption and/or exclusion complaint; and
  • an incomplete search/missing records complaint.

The OIC sends the requester a letter acknowledging receipt of each complaint and a summary of each complaint.

2. Exemption and/or exclusion complaint

The OIC investigates the exemption and/or exclusion complaint to determine whether the institution properly applied the exemptions and/or exclusions.  

3. Incomplete search/missing records complaint

The OIC investigates the incomplete search/missing records complaint to determine whether additional records exist or whether the original response from the institution was complete.

When additional records are located and/or provided to the complainant as a result of the investigation of an incomplete search/missing records complaint, the complainant has the right to complain about any exemptions and/or exclusions applied to the additional records. They must file the complaint within 60 days of receiving the additional records. The OIC then registers a new exemption and/or exclusion complaint and recommends that the complainant reference the original incomplete search/missing records complaint number in subsequent correspondence.