Freedom of Information and Data Protection

Introduction

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) provide a general entitlement to request information.

NIJAC is considered to be a public authority for the purposes of the FoIA and as a data controller for the purposes of the DPA.

The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 took effect from 1st January 2005 and we operate as openly and transparently as possible within the spirit of the Act.

The Act gives a general right of access for the public to recorded information held by public authorities.

This general right of access is, however, qualified by a number of exemptions and exclusions, which exist to ensure a proper balance is achieved between the right to know, the right to personal privacy and the delivery of effective government.

Responsibility for overseeing the operation of the Act rests with the Information Commissioner who is independent of the government reporting directly to Parliament. For detailed information on the Freedom of Information Act, its scope and your rights to information, visit the Information Commissioner's website.

Further Guidance is also available at the Ministry of Justice website.

There may be occasions where it is necessary for the Commission to provide anonymised data, as part of any FOI response. If so, the Commission will take steps to ensure this information is provided in accordance with the Information Commissioner's Guidance.

The Data Protection Act

The DPA covers the personal data of living, identifiable individuals and for NIJAC this is likely to mean individual candidates in selection exercises for judicial appointment.

However, the DPA also contains exemptions from disclosure and one of the exemptions refers specifically to judicial appointments. For example, Paragraph 3 of Schedule 7 provides that:

"Personal data processed for the purposes of (a) assessing any person's suitability for judicial office… are exempt from the subject information provisions".

The following information is processed for the purpose of assessing a person’s suitability for judicial office and therefore cannot be provided:

  • Applicants' assessment scripts;
  • Applicants' scores at the assessment and selection process;
  • Applicants' position on any merit list;
  • Any notes made by Selection Committee Members at any stage of the assessment and selection process;
  • Recordings (including audio, video or transcripts) of any stage of the assessment and selection process;
  • Minutes of Selection Committee and other Committee meetings where the assessment and selection of applicants has been mentioned;
  • Referee Comment Forms and related documentation;
  • Any documentation used as part of the appointments, renewals and/or swearing in process.

Please note that the list above is not intended to be exhaustive and the applicability of the relevant legislation to any record not mentioned above will be determined by NIJAC upon receipt of a request.

Publication scheme

One of the key principles of good administration is to be open and accountable.

NIJAC is committed to publishing a wide range of information about its activities and on subjects in which there is known to be a public interest.

However, under the terms of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, we have an obligation to ensure we protect the confidentiality of those who apply for judicial roles.

We also need to balance our wish to operate openly and transparently with our duty to protect the personal and confidential information we hold. As a result, the information we can place in the public domain about our work is subject to that statutory duty of confidentiality.

NIJAC's Publication Scheme is based on the Information Commissioner's model scheme for non-departmental public bodies. This can be viewed by clicking the following link Freedom of Information Publication Scheme (PDF 101 KB)

If you are unable to find the information you require through our Publication Scheme, you can make a request for that information by contacting us at:

Assisstant Director - Finance and Governance
Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission
Headline Building
10-14 Victoria Street
Belfast

email finance@nijac.gov.uk

Privacy Notice

Our Privacy Notice sets out what we do with information we collect from you and our commitment to the confidentiality and security of that information. It also sets out how you can access any personal information we hold about you and our complaints procedure. This can be viewed by clicking the following link NIJAC Privacy Notice 2012 (PDF 176 KB).