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South Africa: Regulator releases guide on how to use PAIA

The Information Regulator released, on 12 October 2021, its Guide on How to Use the Promotion of Access to Information Act (Act 2 of 2000) ('PAIA'). In particular, the purpose of the guide is to provide information for any individual who wishes to exercise any right contemplated under PAIA and the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 ('POPIA'). Primarily, the guide aims to assist data subjects in understanding the PAIA, and how they can access their personal information under Section 23 of POPIA, and as such provides details on how a request for information can be made and the process, fees, and forms for the same.

However, as part of this, the guide outlines the responsibilities of information officers and public and private bodies, in regards to, among other things, helping the requester make a PAIA request. For example, section 16.1 of the guide states that information officers should coordinate the processing of the request within the relevant body, make decisions as to whether to grant or refuse the access to requested records, advise the requests of the outcome of their PAIA requests, provide the requests with any reasons for the decision to refuse access, inform relevant third parties, and provide the requester with a copy of the record where permitted. 

Furthermore, the guide outlines mandatory and discretionary grounds of refusal, of which the latter includes reasons related to South Africa's defence, security or international relations, economic, financial, and commercial interests, the operations of public bodies, or manifestly frivolous or vexatious requests.

You can read the guide here.