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The Access to Information Act in the courts

A. The Role of the Judiciary

A fundamental principle of the Access to Information Act, set forth in section 2, is that decisions on disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government. The commissioner’s office and the Federal Court of Canada are the two levels of independent review provided by the law.

Requesters dissatisfied with responses received from government to their access requests first must complain to the Information Commissioner. If they are dissatisfied with the results of his investigation, they have the right to ask the Federal Court to review the department’s response. If the Information Commissioner is dissatisfied with a department's response to his recommendations, he has the right, with the requester's consent, to ask the Federal Court to review the matter.

This reporting year, the commissioner’s office completed 1,319 investigations. Only 14 cases could not be resolved to the commissioner’s satisfaction, and these resulted in four new applications for review being filed by the commissioner. Five applications for Court review were filed by dissatisfied requesters. Third parties opposing disclosure filed twenty applications. One application was initiated against the Information Commissioner by the Crown.

This year, with respect to access litigation, the Federal Court of Canada issued 15 decisions, the Federal Court of Appeal issued 4 decisions, and the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to the Information Commissioner to intervene in one case.

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