FOIA Section 41 Exemption

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Section 41: Information Provided In Confidence

Section 41 applies to information that has been obtained from another person and whose disclosure to the public would constitute an actionable breach of confidence.

Key points:

  • Section 41 will only apply where a person would be able to bring a successful action for breach of confidence as a result of disclosure to the public;
  • Section 41 is not subject to a public interest balance imposed by the FOI Act. But, the courts have recognised that a person will not be successful in an action for breach of confidence if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in keeping the confidence;
  • The application of section 41 may require detailed consideration of the law of breach of confidence: expert advice will often be necessary.

Official DCA guidance: http://www.dca.gov.uk/foi/guidance/exguide/sec41/index.htm

What the law says

41 Information provided in confidence

(1) Information is exempt information if—
(a) it was obtained by the public authority from any other person (including another public authority), and
(b) the disclosure of the information to the public (otherwise than under this Act) by the public authority holding it would constitute a breach of confidence actionable by that or any other person.
(2) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, the confirmation or denial that would have to be given to comply with section 1(1)(a) would (apart from this Act) constitute an actionable breach of confidence

ICO Lines To Take

Relevant Lines to Take
  • LTT173 - Impact of disclosure under FOIA on the voluntary supply of information to regulatory bodies - 04/09/2010
  • LTT93 - Test of confidence - 04/07/2010
  • LTT172 - Meaning of the term "actionable" in section 41 cases - 04/07/2010
  • LTT97 - Detriment to the confider - 04/07/2010
  • LTT95 - Obligation of confidence - 04/07/2010
  • LTT37 - Access to medical records of the deceased - 15/05/2009
  • LTT94 - Necessary quality of confidence - 21/07/2008
  • LTT96 - Public interest in favour of maintaining a confidence - 21/07/2008
  • LTT112 - The law of confidence & Human Rights Act 1998 - 25/06/2008
  • LTT107 - No prejudice / adverse effect test for class based exemptions / exceptions - 20/06/2008
  • LTT98 - Human Rights Act 1998 - Article 8 - 21/02/2008
  • LTT109 - Information “obtained from” any person - 13/02/2008
  • LTT74 - Consistent treatment of confidential information - 10/11/2007
  • LTT40 - Contracts between public authorities and third parties - 30/03/2007


Interpretation

"Simply to put at the top of a document "Confidential" does not make the disclosure of that document by anyone actionable in breach of confidence. "Actionable" means that one can go to court and vindicate a right in confidence in relation to that document or information. It means being able to go to court and win."

Lord Falconer of Thoroton http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?gid=2000-10-25a.415.1

Decision Notices

Complaints upheld / partly upheld (P) Complaints not upheld
  • FS50197502 - Cabinet Office - 16/03/2010
  • FS50191352 - Ministry of Defence - 02/02/2010
  • FS50197952 - Cabinet Office - 28/01/2010
  • FS50169315 - North West London Hospitals NHS Trust - 16/11/2009
  • FS50178553 - Wakefield Metropolitan District Council - 14/10/2009
  • FS50171494 - University of East Anglia - 21/09/2009
  • FS50222633 - Coventry City Council - 03/08/2009
  • FS50130316 - Food Standards Agency - 27/07/2009
  • FS50156313(P) - Department for Transport - 01/07/2009
  • FS50125005(P) - Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council - 17/06/2009
  • FS50125350 - National Police Improvement Agency - 16/06/2009
  • FS50124622 - University of Cambridge - 03/06/2009
  • FS50164262 - Bristol City Council - 27/05/2009
  • FS50121803(P) - Ministry of Justice - 14/04/2009
  • FS50188864 - Higher Education Funding Council for England - 31/03/2009
  • FS50140374(P) - University of Central Lancashire - 30/03/2009
  • FS5073382 - Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police - 16/03/2009
  • FS50128406 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 23/02/2009
  • FS50090393 - BBC - 09/02/2009
  • FS50088736 - Department of Health - 29/01/2009
  • FS50149375 - Department of Health - 22/12/2008
  • FS50149373 - Department of Health - 22/12/2008
  • FS50149374 - Department of Health - 22/12/2008
  • FS50146033 - Vehicle and Operator Services Agency - 23/10/2008
  • FS50123184(P) - Office for Standards in Education - 24/09/2008
  • FS50145663 - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - 11/09/2008
  • FS50121687 - The Broads Authority - 10/09/2008
  • FS50104541 - Health and Safety Executive - 21/07/2008
  • FS50123005 - UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) - 16/06/2008
  • FS50084359(P) - Plymouth Primary Care Trust - 05/06/2008
  • FS50124800 - Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust - 02/06/2008
  • FS50120314 - Department of Health - 15/04/2008
  • FS50072940 - University College London - 02/04/2008
  • FS50142318(P) - Somerset NHS Primary Care Trust - 26/02/2008
  • FS50105478 - Chief Constable of Cumbria Constabulary - 20/02/2008
  • FS50155394(P) - Hampshire County Council - 19/02/2008
  • FS50155411(P) - London Borough of Redbridge - 19/02/2008
  • FS50155395(P) - Hertfordshire County Council - 19/02/2008
  • FS50155409(P) - London Borough of Lambeth - 19/02/2008
  • FS50155404(P) - London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham - 19/02/2008
  • FS50155386(P) - Devon County Council - 19/02/2008
  • FS50155412(P) - London Borough of Southwark - 19/02/2008
  • FS50155406(P) - Harrow Council - 13/02/2008
  • FS50155410(P) - London Borough of Islington - 13/02/2008
  • FS50155429 - Wiltshire County Council - 13/02/2008
  • FS50155381(P) - Cornwall County Council - 06/02/2008
  • FS50155388(P) - East Sussex County Council - 06/02/2008
  • FS50155420(P) - Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - 06/02/2008
  • FS50155417(P) - Norfolk County Council - 06/02/2008
  • FS50155397(P) - Kent County Council - 06/02/2008 … further results
  • FS50249189 - Derbyshire County Council - 19/04/2010
  • FS50237887 - Eastleigh Borough Council - 08/04/2010
  • FS50130319 - Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment - 31/03/2010
  • FS50124332 - Department for Transport - 30/03/2010
  • FS50252404 - Leeds City Council - 23/03/2010
  • FS50127519 - Department for Children, Schools and Families - 02/03/2010
  • FS50144197 - Department for Communities and Local Government - 02/03/2010
  • FS50139606 - Ministry of Defence - 02/03/2010
  • FS50237119 - Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency - 18/02/2010
  • FS50248766 - General Medical Council - 15/02/2010
  • FS50204620 - Sport England - 15/02/2010
  • FS50247341 - Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust - 07/01/2010
  • FS50213781 - Leicestershire County Council - 22/12/2009
  • FS50080236 - Department of Health - 21/12/2009
  • FS50213780 - Coventry City Council - 21/12/2009
  • FS50252409 - Leeds City Council - 21/12/2009
  • FS50192655 - Leeds City Council - 21/12/2009
  • FS50080240 - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - 15/12/2009
  • FS50101577 - Northern Ireland Office - 15/12/2009
  • FS50080233 - Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - 15/12/2009
  • FS50080238 - Department for Children, Schools and Families - 15/12/2009
  • FS50080243 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 15/12/2009
  • FS50114757 - Cabinet Office - 15/12/2009
  • FS50208340 - Health and Safety Executive - 23/11/2009
  • FS50193290 - Home Office - 10/11/2009
  • FS50234376 - Charity Commission - 10/11/2009
  • FS50196759 - Department of Health - 10/11/2009
  • FS50202067 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 26/10/2009
  • FS50119361 - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - 08/10/2009
  • FS50157902 - Office for Standards in Education - 28/09/2009
  • FS50137476 - Ministry of Defence - 17/09/2009
  • FS50225818 - Mayday Healthcare NHS Trust - 16/09/2009
  • FS50114760 - Cabinet Office - 09/09/2009
  • FS50148702 - Home Office - 08/07/2009
  • FS50187314 - Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform - 09/03/2009
  • FS50137675 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 05/02/2009
  • FS50180838 - Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform - 15/12/2008
  • FS50113735 - Lambeth Primary Care Trust - 05/08/2008
  • FS50074593 - Medical Research Council - 07/07/2008
  • FS50141388 - North East Wales Institute of Higher Education - 03/07/2008
  • FS50111328 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 23/06/2008
  • FS50153967 - Cabinet Office - 23/06/2008
  • FS50088378 - National Archives - 02/06/2008
  • FS50088853 - HM Treasury - 24/04/2008
  • FS50133293 - Hounslow Primary Care Trust - 17/03/2008
  • FS50155428 - West Sussex County Council - 14/02/2008
  • FS50155425 - Surrey County Council - 13/02/2008
  • FS50152888 - Companies House - 05/02/2008
  • FS50155375 - Bath and North East Somerset Council - 04/02/2008
  • FS50155379 - Cheshire County Council - 04/02/2008 … further results

Includes DNs up to: 26 April 2010


Freedom of Information Act 2000
Exemptions
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