Exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act—a statistical overview [Archived]
Produced in partnership with Amber Lewis of Pitmans
Exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act—a statistical overview [Archived]

The following Public Law practice note Produced in partnership with Amber Lewis of Pitmans provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act—a statistical overview [Archived]
  • Method of analysis
  • Absolute exemptions
  • Qualified exemptions
  • Types of qualified exemptions
  • Trends
  • Conclusion

ARCHIVED: This Practice Note has been archived and is not maintained.

This Practice Note provides an overview of the exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) and an analysis of the exemptions relied upon by public authorities in the first ten years of the regime. It considers the most successful exemptions (from the public authority’s perspective), based on decisions upheld or partly upheld by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). The note also provides a statistical overview of trends in relation to complaints referred to the ICO. This Practice Note is not maintained. It is for background information only.

Method of analysis

Under the FIA 2000, a requester may ask for any information that is held by a public authority.

FIA 2000, Pt II provides for a number of specific exemptions to the principle of access to information. Such exemptions exist primarily to protect information that should not be disclosed because such disclosure could be against the public interest or because it could be damaging to another person.

There are 23 exemptions in FIA 2000 under which a request for information may be refused. The exemptions fall into two categories: absolute and qualified.

  1. under an absolute exemption there is no obligation to release the information requested, so the only question is whether the exemption applies. See also Practice Note: Absolute exemptions to a freedom of information request.

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