Absolute exemptions to a freedom of information request

The following Public Law practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Absolute exemptions to a freedom of information request
  • In brief
  • Absolute exemptions
  • Historical records
  • Information accessible to the applicant by other means
  • Information supplied by or relating to security bodies
  • Court, inquiry or arbitration records
  • Information protected by parliamentary privilege
  • Information that if disclosed would prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs
  • Communications with the Sovereign, etc
  • More...

IP COMPLETION DAY: 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition/implementation period entered into following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. At this point in time (referred to in UK law as ‘IP completion day’), key transitional arrangements come to an end and significant changes begin to take effect across the UK’s legal regime. This document contains guidance on subjects impacted by these changes. Before continuing your research, see Practice Note: What does IP completion day mean for public law?

In brief

A public authority need not disclose information following a request for information made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) if:

  1. the estimated cost would exceed the appropriate limit

  2. the request is vexatious

  3. the request is repeated, or

  4. an exemption applies

The FIA 2000 contains 24 exemptions which permit an authority to withhold the requested information. These exemptions fall broadly into the following two categories:

  1. absolute exemptions

  2. qualified exemptions, which are subject to a public interest test

When dealing with a freedom of information request, even one where an exemption applies, an authority must still act according to the duty to provide advice and assistance so far as it would be reasonable. And so, even when information is deemed exempt, an authority should not merely issue a refusal notice, but rather it should also consider what assistance to

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