Law n.º 65/93 of August 26 : Access to Administrative
Under the terms of Article 164, sub-paragraph
d), Article 168, paragraph 1, sub-paragraphs b), d) and v),
and Article 169, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, the Assembly
of the Republic rules as follows:
Access to administrative documents by
the citizens shall be ensured by the Public Administration
according to the principles of publicity, transparency, equality,
justice and impartiality.
1. This law regulates the access to documents
that relate to the activities of the entities mentioned in
2. The exercise by the citizens of their
right to be informed by the Administration of the progress
of proceedings in which they have a direct interest, as well
as their right to be informed of the final decisions taken
thereupon, are regulated by separate legislation.
The documents mentioned in Article 2 are
documents which originate within or are held by organs of
either the State or the autonomous regions that perform administrative
functions, by organs of either public institutes or public
associations, organs of the local authorities, organs of associations
or federations of local authorities, as well as other entities
that exercise public authority according to the law.
1. For the purposes of this law:
(a) administrative document shall mean
any support of information, either graphic, sound, visual
or computerised, or any record of another nature, elaborated
or held by the Public Administration, including files, reports,
studies, opinions, minutes, official records, circulars,
circular letters, internal orders, internal normative decisions,
instructions and guidelines for the interpretation of the
law or setting the framework for an activity, as well as
other pieces of information;
(b) named document shall mean any support
for information that contains personal data;
(c) personal data shall mean any information
concerning an identified or identifiable natural person,
and containing assessments, or judgements of value, or covered
by the clause of respect for private life.
2. For the purposes of this law, the following
shall not be deemed to be administrative documents:
(a) personal notes, sketches or other
records of a similar nature;
(b) documents that do not concern administrative
activities, in particular documents concerning the meetings
of the Council of Ministers and Secretaries of State, or
the preparation of such meetings.
Internal and external
1. Documents containing information the
access to which is considered to create a risk for or be harmful
to the State's internal or external security shall be classified
according to special legislation and for a strictly necessary
period of time, either as documents the access to which is
prohibited or as documents the access to which is subject
2. After having been declassified, or
once the period of time provided for their classification
has expired, the documents mentioned in the preceding paragraph
may be freely consulted under the terms of this law.
Secret of justice
Access to documents concerning matters
covered by the secret de justice is regulated by special legislation.
Right of access
1. Everyone shall have the right of access
to information by way of access to non-named administrative
2. The right of access to named documents
shall be limited to the person to whom the data refer, as
well as to third parties who prove that they have a direct
and personal interest under the terms set out in the following
3. The right of access to administrative
documents includes both the right to obtain reproductions
of the documents and the right to be informed of the existence
and the contents thereof.
4. Where administrative documents are
kept in archives, this shall not preclude the exercise at
any time of the right of access to such documents.
5. Access to documents that are instrumental
either in proceedings which are undecided or in the preparation
of a decision shall be postponed until the decision has been
taken or until the proceedings have been discontinued or until
one year after their being prepared.
6. Access to administrative or other enquiries
shall be permitted only after the deadline for disciplinary
proceedings has expired.
7. Access to documents within the domain
of notaries or public registers, documents concerning civil
status or criminal records, documents concerning automatically
processed personal data, as well as documents kept in historical
archives is regulated in special legislation.
Access to named documents
1. Exercise of the right of access to
personal data contained in administrative documents shall
be subject to the provisions of the special law concerning
automated processing of personal data, with modifications
2. Information of a medical nature shall
only be communicated to the person concerned through a medical
doctor appointed by that person.
3. Any claim of a direct and personal
interest under the provisions of Article 7, paragraph 2, shall
not be accepted if it is not accompanied by a favourable opinion
of the Committee of Access to Administrative Documents requested
by the person who wishes to enjoy the right of access.
4. Access of third parties to personal
data may also be authorised:
(a) upon written authorization of the
person to whom the data concerns;
(b) subject to a favourable opinion
as provided for in paragraph 3, where the purpose of communication
of the data is to safeguard the legitimate interests of
the person to whom the data concerns and that person cannot
give his authorization.
5. Documents containing personal data
may also be communicated to third parties, depending on the
nature of the documents, where it is possible for the administration
to expunge all such data without having to rebuild the document
and where there is no risk of easy identification.
Correction of personal
1. Exercise of the right to bring corrections,
to complete or to delete inaccurate, insufficient or excessive
personal data shall be subject to the provisions of the legislation
concerning automated processing of personal data, with modifications
2. Only the corrected version of personal
data may be used or communicated.
Illegal use of information
1. It is forbidden to use information
without having due respect for copyrights or patent rights;
it is also forbidden to reproduce, diffuse or use documents
or information therein in such a way as to amount to unfair
2. Personal data communicated to third
parties shall not be used for purposes other than those under
which access was authorised, and shall otherwise entail liability
for losses and damages under the terms laid down in the law.
Publication of documents
1. The Public Administration shall publish
through adequate means:
(a) any documents, including internal
normative decisions, circulars and guidelines, that contain
structures for the administrative activity;
(b) the reference of any documents containing
an interpretation of enacted laws or a description of an
administrative procedure, including in that reference inter
alia the title and date of the documents, the subject and
the originator thereof, as well as the place where the documents
may be consulted.
2. Publication of documents and references
of documents shall be made at least once every six months
and in such a way as to encourage regular access by interested
Exercise of the right
Form of access
1. Documents may be acceded to by way
(a) on the spot, free of charge consultation;
(b) reproduction through photocopy
or any other technical means including visual or sound means;
(c) certified copies issued by the
2. Reproduction pursuant to paragraph
1(b) shall be in one copy and subject to payment by the requesting
person of an amount strictly corresponding to the financial
costs of both the materials used and the service rendered;
a decree-law or a regional legislative decree, as appropriate,
will fix the amount of the costs.
3. Computerised documents shall be transmitted
in a way that is intelligible to any person and corresponds
rigorously to the contents of the register, without prejudice
to the option provided for in paragraph 1(b).
4. Where there is a risk that reproduction
as provided for in paragraph 1 will harm the documents, the
interested person, at his expense, shall be entitled to promote
manual copy of the document, or its reproduction, in any other
Form of request
Requests for access to documents must
be made in writing and contain all references necessary for
identifying the document, as well as the name, the address
and the signature of the interested person.
Responsibility for providing
In each ministerial department, regional
department, local authority, institute and public association
there shall be an entity responsible for the
implementation of the provisions of this law.
Reply from the administration
1. The entity to whom a request for access
to a document was made, shall within a period of ten days:
(a) communicate the date, place and
mode in which the document may either be consulted or reproduced,
or a certified copy thereof may be obtained; or
(b) set out, pursuant both to the provisions
of Article 268, paragraph 2, of the Constitution, and the
provisions of this law, the reasons why total or partial
access to the document is refused; or
(c) notify that the document is not
within its possession and, where it knows of its whereabouts,
point out the entity that possesses the document, or pass
the request on to the latter and so inform the interested
(d) forward to the requesting person
a copy of the request addressed to the Committee of Access
to Administrative Documents for the latter to assess the
possibility of access to the information contained in the
2. Where it has doubts about the possibility
of access to the information contained in the document sought,
the requested entity may request an opinion from the Committee
of Access to Administrative Documents, with a copy being sent
to the interested person; that opinion shall be delivered
within a period of 20 days.
3. If the administration has not replied
within 35 days, this shall be deemed an implicit decision
rejecting the request.
4. The interested person shall be entitled
to submit to the Committee of Access to Administrative Documents
a complaint against any explicit or implicit rejection of
his request or against any decision that limits the exercise
of the right of access.
1. Complaints must be submitted to the
Committee of Access to Administrative Documents within 10
2 The Committee of Access to Administrative
Documents shall produce a report assessing the situation within
30 days and forward it, along with its conclusions, both to
the entity involved and the person concerned.
3. Having received the report mentioned
in the preceding paragraph, the entity that refused the request
shall within 15 days communicate its final decision to the
person concerned; failure to do so shall be deemed an implicit
decision rejecting the complaint.
The person concerned shall be entitled
to appeal before the courts against any final decision on
his complaint, under the terms of the legislation concerning
the administrative or fiscal courts and pursuant to the procedural
rules, adapted as appropriate, that apply to the procedure
concerning intimation to consult documents or obtain certified
On the Committee of
Access to Administrative Documents
1. The Committee of Access to Administrative
Documents (CADA) is hereby created; it shall be entrusted
with watching over the implementation of the provisions of
2. The CADA shall be a public independent
entity attached to the Assembly of the Republic and having
its own technical and administrative support services.
Membership of CADA
1. Membership of the CADA shall be as
a) one judge member of the Supreme Administrative
Court, appointed by the Supreme Council of the Administrative
and Fiscal Courts, who shall be the Chairman;
b) two members of the Assembly of the
Republic elected by the latter, one nominated by the parliamentary
group of the largest party supporting the government, and
the other nominated by the parliamentary group of the largest
party in opposition,
c) one law professor appointed by the
President of the Assembly of the Republic;
d) two persons of high standing appointed
by the government;
c) one representative of each of the
Autonomous Regions, respectively appointed by the Governments
of the Autonomous Regions;
f) one person of high standing appointed
by the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities;
g) one advocate appointed by the Bar
h) one member of the National Committee
for the Protection of Computerised Personal Data appointed
by the latter.
2. Any member may at his initiative be
replaced by an alternate appointed by the same entity that
3. The term of office of members, which
is renewable, shall last for two years; however it shall reach
an end when a member ceases to perform the functions which
led to his appointment.
4. The chairman shall receive the salary
and enjoy the benefits to which he is entitled in his capacity
as member of the Supreme Administrative Court.
5. All members, except the Chairman may
keep their other functions.
6. The legal texts regulating the implementation
of this law shall determine the rights and benefits of the
7. Entities having an interest in matters
being discussed in a meeting of the CADA may attend that meeting
without the right to vote.
1. The CADA shall have powers to:
a) adopt its internal rules;
b) examine any complaint submitted to it;
c) give opinions on the access to named documents, pursuant
to Article 8, paragraph 3;
d) decide on the system of classification of documents;
e) give opinions on the implementation of this law, as
well as the preparation and implementation of legislation
in related matters, at the request of the government, the
Assembly of the Republic or the administration;
f) prepare an annual report on the implementation of this
law and on its activity, to be forwarded both to the Assembly
of the Republic, for publication and examination, and the
2. The provisions of Articles 8 and 9
shall not obstruct complaints to the CADA where the right
of access is refused.
3. The internal rules of the CADA shall
be published in the Diário da República, 2nd.
4. Opinions shall be drafted either by
a member of the CADA or by a member of its staff, appointed
by the Chairman under the terms set out in the internal rules.
5. The opinions shall be published under
the terms set out in the internal rules.
Co-operation of the
It shall be the duty of the members of
the staff of the public administration to co-operate with
the CADA; otherwise, their disciplinary liability shall be
Final and transitional
Documents concerning the environment shall
be acceded to under the terms of this law within the scope
and the meaning derived from Directive No. 90/313/EEC, of
Establishment of the
The members of the CADA shall be appointed
within a period of 30 days from the entry into force of the
legal texts regulating the implementation of this law; they
shall take up office before the President of the Assembly
of the Republic within 10 days of the publication of their
names in the Diário da República, 1 st. series.
The government shall adopt within 90 days
legal texts regulating the implementation of this law.
(Translation by Cândido CUNHA)