FOIA Section 32 Exemption

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Section 32: Court Records

Section 32 exempts information contained in certain litigation documents and court, tribunal and inquiry records and will apply regardless of the content of the information. There are separate and specific regimes for gaining access to court and tribunal records and section 32 ensures that those regimes are not superseded by the FOI Act.

Key points:

  • Section 32 will apply only if the public authority concerned holds the information solely because it was contained in one of the specified documents.
  • Section 32 applies regardless of the content of the information
  • The application of section 32 is not subject to any public interest balance.

Official DCA guidance: http://www.dca.gov.uk/foi/guidance/exguide/sec32/index.htm

What the law says

32 Court records, etc

  • (1) Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it is held only by virtue of being contained in—
    • (a) any document filed with, or otherwise placed in the custody of, a court for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter,
    • (b) any document served upon, or by, a public authority for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter, or
    • (c) any document created by—
      • (i) a court, or
      • (ii) a member of the administrative staff of a court,
    • for the purposes of proceedings in a particular cause or matter.
  • (2) Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it is held only by virtue of being contained in—
    • (a) any document placed in the custody of a person conducting an inquiry or arbitration, for the purposes of the inquiry or arbitration, or
    • (b) any document created by a person conducting an inquiry or arbitration, for the purposes of the inquiry or arbitration.
  • (3) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise in relation to information which is (or if it were held by the public authority would be) exempt information by virtue of this section.
  • (4) In this section—
    • (a) “court” includes any tribunal or body exercising the judicial power of the State,
    • (b) “proceedings in a particular cause or matter” includes any investigation under Part 1 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, any inquest under the Coroners Act (Northern Ireland) 1959 and any post-mortem examination,
    • (c) “inquiry” means any inquiry or hearing held under any provision contained in, or made under, an enactment, and
    • (d) except in relation to Scotland, “arbitration” means any arbitration to which Part I of the [1996 c. 23.] Arbitration Act 1996 applies.

ICO Lines To Take

Relevant Lines to Take
  • LTT22 - Accessibility of court records - 01/05/2009
  • LTT38 - Definition of court records - 08/11/2008
  • LTT107 - No prejudice / adverse effect test for class based exemptions / exceptions - 20/06/2008


Decision Notices

Complaints upheld / partly upheld (P) Complaints not upheld
  • FS50121803(P) - Ministry of Justice - 14/04/2009
  • FS50118883 - Ministry of Justice - 16/10/2007
  • FS50103691 - Vehicle and Operator Services Agency - 17/09/2007
  • FS50080312(P) - Doncaster MBC - 07/08/2007
  • FS50062508 - Warwickshire Police Authority - 06/04/2006
  • FS50128888 - Charity Commission - 23/12/2009
  • FS50164614 - Ministry of Justice - 19/11/2009
  • FS50232752 - Bath and North East Somerset Council - 12/08/2009
  • FS50148575 - Hastings Borough Council - 11/12/2008
  • FS50182912 - Charity Commission - 09/09/2008
  • FS50132098 - Ministry of Justice - 01/05/2008
  • FS50095109 - King's College Cambridge - 20/11/2007
  • FS50099396 - UK Intellectual Property Office - 03/07/2007
  • FS50073646 - Ministry of Justice - 05/06/2007
  • FS50120313 - Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust - 19/04/2007
  • FS50129136 - Information Commissioner - 27/11/2006
  • FAC0065282 - Bridgnorth District Council - 17/05/2005

Includes DNs up to: 26 April 2010




Freedom of Information Act 2000
Exemptions
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