The Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 ("PAIA") plays a pivotal role in ensuring transparency and accountability in both public and private sectors. With the Information Regulator (the "Regulator") issuing a call for the submission of annual reports, it's important to examine the obligations of private bodies under this Act.

The Regulator issued a media statement on 7 May 2023 calling for information officers and heads of private bodies to submit their annual reports on access to information for the 2022-2023 financial year, by 30 June 2023. According to the Regulator, the reports are needed for the generation of statistics and insights into whether both the private and public bodies are receiving and recording requests for information.

Information Regulator's authority to request PAIA reports

PAIA requires information officers from public bodies to submit annual reports, on the access to information requests, to the Regulator. Additionally, PAIA enables the Regulator to request reports setting out various details on requests for access to information.

Purpose of the access to information report

The purpose of these reports is to generate statistical data on the number of requests for access to records received, whether such requests have been actioned, and access to information granted. The data obtained provides insights into PAIA implementation and compliance within both the public and private spheres. The Regulator will in, in turn, rely on such information in its own Annual Report to the National Assembly on PAIA-related issues. Therefore, the purpose for which the reports are to be submitted to the Regulator is for the generation of data and insights into PAIA's implementation and compliance.

Consequences for non-compliance

If a private body fails to submit an annual report by the specified deadline, it could potentially become subject to an assessment by the Regulator and the Regulator may serve an information officer or head of a private body with an enforcement notice. Furthermore, an information officer or head of a private body who fails to comply with an enforcement notice will be guilty of an offence and may be liable for a fine or imprisonment or both. Therefore, private bodies should submit an annual report to the Regulator to avoid enforcement action.

ENSafrica's TMT and privacy experts can assist information officers and the heads of private bodies with their PAIA reports.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.