FOISA Section 25 Exemption

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Section 25 Information otherwise accessible

Section 25 says that a Scottish public authority does not need to provide information requested under section 1of FOISA if that information is 'reasonably obtainable' to the applicant by other means, even where a fee may be charged

Notes to consider

Paraphrased from the SIC briefing:

  • Public authorities have a duty to provide advice and assistance under section 15 of FOISA. They should tell you where to find the information.
  • A person with visual impairment might not be able to access information provided only on a website
  • A person living a long way from the public authority’s premises might find it unreasonable if they are expected to travel there to see the information.
  • The existence alone of a fee for the information is not enough to mean it is not reasonably obtainable.
  • Information which is held by the pubic authority but also commercially available, such as Ordnance Survey maps, journals or books, is covered by this exemption. The SIC say that the market price for this type of information will generally be taken as ‘reasonable’.
  • It might not be reasonable for an authority to insist that an applicant purchases a whole document in order to obtain information which makes up only a small part of that document.


(1) Information which the applicant can reasonably obtain other than by requesting it under section 1(1) is exempt information.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), information—
(a) may be reasonably obtainable even if payment is required for access to it;
(b) is to be taken to be reasonably obtainable if—
(i) the Scottish public authority which holds it, or any other person, is obliged by or under any enactment to communicate it (otherwise than by making it available for inspection) to; or
(ii) the Keeper of the Records of Scotland holds it and makes it available for inspection and (in so far as practicable) copying by,
members of the public on request, whether free of charge or on payment.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1), information which does not fall within paragraph (b) of subsection (2) is not, merely because it is available on request from the Scottish public authority which holds it, reasonably obtainable unless it is made available in accordance with the authority’s publication scheme and any payment required is specified in, or determined in accordance with, the scheme.