FOIA Section 43 Exemption

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Section 43: Commercial Interests

Section 43 exempts information whose disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any person. It also includes a specific exemption for trade secrets.

Key points:

  • Section 43 protects not only the commercial interests of third parties but also the commercial interests of the public authority that holds the information;
  • Public authorities will need to bear in mind that the commercial sensitivity (particularly the market sensitivity) of information will usually decrease with time;
  • Section 43 is subject to the public interest test.

Official Guidance

What to check for in refusal notices

For information to be witheld under Section 43, the following MUST be provided:

  • Details of the exact FOIA exemption - either 43.1 Trade Secrets or 43.2 Commercial Interests
  • Details of who would be prejudiced - see MoJ guidance above, p4.
  • A "Public Interest Test" where the arguments for and against release of the information should be discussed (as this is a "qualified" exemption).
  • If release of the information could prejudice a third party, they should be consulted with - see FOIA Section 45 Code of Practice Part IV

In addition much information from recent public sector contracts should be made available, especially if they are from after 2005, the start date of the FOIA - see ICO Awareness guidance 5 annexe - public sector contracts

Local Authorities and some other public authorities have to open up their accounts for inspection by the public each year under the rules of the Audit Commission Act 1998 (see Orchard News Bureau's list of annual dates). Because of this, they should not try to hide or redact financial amounts from invoices or accounts in FOI requests that would be normally be made public during the annual inspection period.

What the law says

43 Commercial interests

(1) Information is exempt information if it constitutes a trade secret.
(2) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).
(3) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice the interests mentioned in subsection (2).

ICO Lines To Take

Relevant Lines to Take
  • LTT55 - Evidence from third parties - 18/11/2010
  • LTT173 - Impact of disclosure under FOIA on the voluntary supply of information to regulatory bodies - 04/09/2010
  • LTT13 - Prejudice test - 05/01/2009
  • LTT16 - Prejudice to contractual relations - 29/08/2006


Decision Notices

Complaints upheld / partly upheld (P) Complaints not upheld
  • FS50183692(P) - Royal Mail - 25/03/2010
  • FS50211063 - Leeds Metropoliten University - 18/03/2010
  • FS50211784 - Central Bedfordshire Council - 02/02/2010
  • FS50218090 - Swanage Town Council - 26/01/2010
  • FS50214920 - Camden Primary Care Trust - 07/01/2010
  • FS50154684 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 15/12/2009
  • FS50214210 - Vehicle and Operator Services Agency - 03/12/2009
  • FS50240406 - Royal Mail - 01/12/2009
  • FS50129430 - Financial Services Authority - 18/11/2009
  • FS50089555(P) - Ministry of Defence - 17/11/2009
  • FS50169315(P) - North West London Hospitals NHS Trust - 16/11/2009
  • FS50216278 - Royal Mail - 09/11/2009
  • FS50089556(P) - Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - 15/10/2009
  • FS50131117 - Home Office - 15/10/2009
  • FS50171494 - University of East Anglia - 21/09/2009
  • FS50229756 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 17/09/2009
  • FS50176916 - British Transport Police Authority - 24/08/2009
  • FS50207431 - Department for Transport - 17/08/2009
  • FS50161805 - Ministry of Justice - 28/07/2009
  • FS50178268 - Ministry of Justice - 28/07/2009
  • FS50130316 - Food Standards Agency - 27/07/2009
  • FS50173361 - University of Oxford - 21/07/2009
  • FS50125005(P) - Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council - 17/06/2009
  • FS50125350 - National Police Improvement Agency - 16/06/2009
  • FS50164262 - Bristol City Council - 27/05/2009
  • FS50193437 - Financial Services Authority - 19/05/2009
  • FS50160256 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 06/04/2009
  • FS50083102 - Department for Children, Schools and Families - 31/03/2009
  • FS50160902(P) - University of Oxford - 31/03/2009
  • FS50160904 - King's College London - 31/03/2009
  • FS50140374 - University of Central Lancashire - 30/03/2009
  • FS50145203(P) - Caerphilly County Borough Council - 24/03/2009
  • FS50128406 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 23/02/2009
  • FS50188894 - The Priory Group - 17/02/2009
  • FS50090393(P) - BBC - 09/02/2009
  • FS50088736 - Department of Health - 29/01/2009
  • FS50149375 - Department of Health - 22/12/2008
  • FS50149374 - Department of Health - 22/12/2008
  • FS50149373 - Department of Health - 22/12/2008
  • FS50178376 - Royal Mail - 18/12/2008
  • FS50133140 - BBC - 11/12/2008
  • FS50088016 - Department for International Development - 27/11/2008
  • FS50126264 - Student Loans Company Ltd - 03/11/2008
  • FS50169313(P) - British Museum - 23/10/2008
  • FS50163364 - Imperial College London - 21/10/2008
  • FS50168782 - Hampshire County Council - 08/10/2008
  • FS50145663 - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - 11/09/2008
  • FS50106712 - Financial Services Authority - 11/08/2008
  • FS50156040 - Student Loans Company Ltd - 30/07/2008
  • FS50141374 - Department for Transport - 28/07/2008 … further results
  • FS50252404 - Leeds City Council - 23/03/2010
  • FS50248665 - Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - 18/03/2010
  • FS50227055 - Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - 11/03/2010
  • FS50235498 - House of Commons - 07/12/2009
  • FS50157117 - Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs - 22/10/2009
  • FS50131984 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 20/10/2009
  • FS50125011 - University of Nottingham - 07/09/2009
  • FS50192335 - Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - 29/07/2009
  • FS50128245 - Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform - 01/04/2009
  • FS50171506 - North Staffordshire Primary Care Trust - 31/03/2009
  • FS50206188 - Veterinary Laboratories Agency - 02/03/2009
  • FS50181643 - Central Office of Information - 03/12/2008
  • FS50129653 - Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust - 02/04/2008
  • FS50094891 - Commonwealth Development Corporation (‘CDC’) - 19/03/2008
  • FS50086170 - The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - 17/03/2008
  • FS50086077 - BBC - 17/03/2008
  • FS50068391 - BBC - 10/03/2008
  • FS50164273 - BBC - 27/02/2008
  • FS50155428 - West Sussex County Council - 14/02/2008
  • FS50155425 - Surrey County Council - 13/02/2008
  • FS50155375 - Bath and North East Somerset Council - 04/02/2008
  • FS50155378 - London Borough of Bexley - 04/02/2008
  • FS50155379 - Cheshire County Council - 04/02/2008
  • FS50072937 - BBC - 08/01/2008
  • FS50067416 - BBC - 08/01/2008
  • FS50082955 - Financial Services Authority - 02/01/2008
  • FS50154913 - Northern Ireland Office - 18/12/2007
  • FS50075174 - Office for Standards in Education - 19/11/2007
  • FS50094592 - North Western & North Wales Fisheries Committee - 19/11/2007
  • FS50109533 - London Borough of Camden - 29/10/2007
  • FS50074344 - BBC - 04/10/2007
  • FS50133791 - BBC - 30/07/2007
  • FS50094583 - Financial Services Authority - 05/07/2007
  • FS50107458 - National Gallery - 21/05/2007
  • FS50126145 - Royal Mail - 28/03/2007
  • FS50087290 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 27/03/2007
  • FS50081543 - Department for Transport - 29/11/2006
  • FS50097376 - Welsh Development Agency - 11/09/2006
  • FS50075607 - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - 31/07/2006
  • FS50070214 - Guildford Borough Council - 18/07/2006
  • FS50066054 - Post Office - 30/11/2005
  • FS50066313 - Department of Trade and Industry - 24/10/2005

Includes DNs up to: 26 April 2010



Freedom of Information Act 2000
Exemptions
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