Section 53 - How to Ask for a Review


This section sets out the procedure and time limits an applicant must observe when asking the Commissioner for a review of any decision, act, or failure to act by the head of the public body in relation to a request under the Act.

Section Reference

Section 53 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

  1. To ask for a review under this Division, a written request must be delivered to the commissioner.
  2. A request for a review of a decision of the head of a public body must be delivered within
    1. 30 days after the person asking for the review is notified of the decision, or
    2. a longer period allowed by the Commissioner.
  3. The failure of the head of a public body to respond in time to a request for access to a record is to be treated as a decision to refuse access to the record, but the time limit in subsection (2)(a) for delivering a request for review does not apply.


This section provides direction as to how an individual who has applied for access to records under the Act, or has complained about a possible violation of the privacy provisions of the Act, may seek a review by the Commissioner of any decision by the head of the public body related to that application or complaint. The section also establishes the time frame within which a request for a review of a decision may be made.


If the head of the public body has failed to respond to a request within the time limits required under section 7, section 10, and section 11, the head is deemed to have refused access to the record and the time limit for requesting a review under section 53(2)(a) does not apply.


Requests for a review must be in writing except under limited circumstances established in the Regulations.

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has established Policies and Procedures for any applicant who has a limited ability to read and write, or a physical disability which impairs the ability to make a written request.


Interpretation Note 1 (Section 53(1)):

Applications for a review must be in writing. Regulations prescribe classes of individuals who may act for minors, those incapable of acting upon their own, deceased persons or any other individuals under the Act in exercising this and other rights under the Act. As noted above, the Commissioner has established procedures to assist applicants who possess either a limited or no ability to make a request in writing.

Interpretation Note 2 (Section 53(2)):

An applicant must deliver a request for a review to the Commissioner within 30 days of receiving notification of the head’s decision [paragraph 53(2)(a)] or a longer time when allowed by the Commissioner [paragraph 53(2)(b)]

The Commissioner will consider all relevant circumstances when allowing a longer time, including:

  • Whether the public body will suffer prejudice due to the extended time limit;
  • Whether any new information has come to light that makes the applicant less satisfied with the public body’s response to the request; and,
  • Whether extenuating circumstances delayed the applicant’s ability to ask for a review within the 30-day time limit.

Interpretation Note 3 (Section 53(3)):

This section does not apply if the head of a public body fails to respond in the appropriate time to a request for access to records, if the records are publicly available and the request has been made outside of the formal FOI process.

Sectional Index of Commissioner's Orders

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Last updated: July 26, 2007