Freedom of Information Act 2000

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Introduction

This section of the wiki provides more details on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Name and Address

  • You should ideally use your real name for FOI requests. Various permutations of names are acceptable. For example, if you're called John Smith, then Mr Smith or J. Smith are both OK.
  • If you're writing on behalf of a corporate body (eg company or charity etc), then the name of that company is acceptable.
  • If you wish to remain anonymous, there's nothing to stop you asking a friend or relative to make a FOI request on your behalf under their name.
  • The ICO have updated their advice on using a pseudonym to make requests [URL req'd]. They will not accept as valid any complaint (ie under FOIA Section 50) from anyone they suspect of using a pseudonym - this is because further appeals need to go to Tribunal, which has a stronger requirement for disclosure of real names.
  • The ICO state that a pseudonym does not automatically result in a request being vexatious, and that Authorities should consider disclosing information to anonymous requesters.
  • You need to provide "an address for correspondence". This means that either an email address OR a physical address is required.
  • The ICO have confirmed this, in response to correspondence with Rother District Council who originally insisted on a physical address being provided for all FOI requests.

How to make a request

Any person can make a request under the Act - there are no restrictions on your age, nationality, or where you live.

All you have to do is write to (or email) the public authority that you think holds the information you want. You should make sure that you include:

  • your name & and address where you can be contacted
  • a description of the information that you want

You can make a request to public authorities using the WhatDoTheyKnow web site, the site lists over 3,000 UK public authorities.

Part I

Exemptions guidance

The table below shows the FOIA exemptions, including whether they are absolute exemptions or qualified exemptions subject to a Public Interest Test.

Exemption absolute / qualified prejuduce based/class based MoJ guidance ICO guidance
Section 12: Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit Absolute N/A link link
Section 21: Information Accessible By Other Means Absolute N/A link link
Section 22: Information Intended For Future Publication Qualified Class link link
Section 22A: Research Qualified TBC N/A N/A
Section 23: Information Supplied by, or Related to, Bodies Dealing with Security Matters Absolute N/A link N/A
Section 24: National Security Qualified Prejudice link N/A
Section 26: Defence Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 27: International Relations Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 28: Relations Within The United Kingdom Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 29: The Economy Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 30: Investigations And Proceedings Conducted By Public Authorities Qualified Class link link
Section 31: Law Enforcement Qualified Class link link
Section 32: Court Records Absolute N/A link link
Section 33: Audit Functions Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 34: Parliamentary Privilege Absolute N/A link N/A
Section 35: Formulation Of Government Policy Qualified Class link link
Section 36: Prejudice to Effective Conduct of Public Affairs Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 37: Communications With Her Majesty, With Other Members Of The Royal Household, And The Conferring By The Crown Of Any Honour Or Dignity Qualified in NI; Absolute or Qualified for other public authorities Class link link
Section 38: Health And Safety Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 39: Environmental Information Qualified - EIR applies, and all EIR exemptions are subject to a PIT Class link N/A
Section 40: Personal Information For 3rd party info - neither - depends on 'fairness' test of DPA. For own information, this is an absolute exemption Class link link
Section 41: Information Provided In Confidence Absolute Class link link
Section 42: Legal Professional Privilege Qualified Class link link
Section 43: Commercial Interests Qualified Prejudice link link
Section 44: Prohibitions On Disclosure Absolute Class link link

Who is subject to the Freedom of Information Act?

Publication Schemes, Disclosure logs & ICO / Information Tribunal guidance

How the Act came about

Main article: History of the Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Labour Party's 1997 manifesto contained the following commitment: "Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in government and defective policy decisions. The Scott Report on arms to Iraq revealed Conservative abuses of power. We are pledged to a Freedom of Information Act, leading to more open government, and an independent National Statistical Service."

Legislative information

  • To link to this legislation, try {{ukpga|2000|36}}.
  • Short title: Freedom of Information Act 2000
  • Legislation ID: ukpga/2000/36

External Links