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I am a member of a work at home mom’s group on Facebook and someone asked about the requirement for a Promotion of Access to Information manual, so I did some quick reading to answer the question (since once upon a time in another life I was a lawyer and am now slowly building up a business).
So the first question that needs to be answered is who needs to create a PAIA manual. The answer appears to be everyone who has any kind of a business no matter how small. Section 51 of the Act stipulates that a private body must create a PAIA manual, which means that we need to look at who is a private body.
The Act defines a private body as:
(a) a natural person who carries or has carried on any trade, business or profession, but only in such capacity;
(b) a partnership which carries on or has carried on any trade, business or profession; or
(c) any former or existing juristic person but excludes a public body;
I am going to ignore public bodies for the purpose of this blog post. So what this section in essence says if you do anything for money (no matter how small and insignificant you are) you need to create a manual.
The contents of the manual are regulated by section 51 of the Act which says that:
(1) Within six months after the commencement of this section or the coming into existence of the private body concerned the head of a private body must compile a manual containing-
(a) the postal and street address, phone and fax number and, if available, electronic mail address of the head of the body;
(b) a description of the guide referred to in section 10, if available, and how to obtain access to it;
(c) the latest notice in terms of section 52 (2), if any, regarding the categories of record of the body which are available without a person having to request access in terms of this Act;
(d) a description of the records of the body which are available in accordance with any other legislation;
(e) sufficient detail to facilitate a request for access to a record of the body, a description of the subjects on which the body holds records and the categories of records held on each subject; and
(f) such other information as may be prescribed.
(2) The head of a private body must on a regular basis update the manual referred to in subsection (1).
(3) Each manual must be made available as prescribed.
(4) For security, administrative or financial reasons, the Minister may, on request or of his or her own accord. by notice in the Gazette, exempt any private body or category of private bodies from any provision of this section for such period as the Minister thinks fit.
The head of a private body is defined as:
(a) in the case of a natural person, that natural person or any person duly authorised by that natural person;
(b) in the case of a partnership, any partner of the partnership or any person duly authorised by the partnership;
(c) in the case of a juristic person-
(i) the chief executive officer or equivalent officer of the juristic person or any, person duly authorised by that officer; or
(ii) the person who is acting as such or any person duly authorised by such acting person;
So in simple terms the head of a private body is the boss…whether you are a corporation or a little one man show.
The prescribed manner for making the manual available is by:
(1) submitting a copy of the manual to the PAIA unit of the Human Rights Commission and
(2) publishing the manual on the private body’s website.
The a copy of the manual can be submitted via email to email@example.com but a hard copy must be sent to the commission as well. The postal address is:
South African Human Rights Commission
Private Bag X2700
An exemption was extended to the majority of private bodies until 31 December 2015. At present it does not appear that another exemption is going to be granted.
The approach that I am following is creating my manual from the template provided by the South African Human Rights Commission, submit it and forget about it unless I get any requests for information.
In terms of PAIA every private body must compile an information manual. This manual must be submitted to the PAIA unit of the Human Rights Commission and published on the private body’s website (if they have one).
This information is provided as a guideline only and does not constitute legal advice…if you need legal advice get an attorney.
For more information consult the South African Human Rights Commissions guidelines on Compliance with Section 51.
Love and boring legal bits,