Freedom of information for public sector
Produced in partnership with Amber Lewis of Pitmans
Freedom of information for public sector

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

  • Freedom of information for public sector
  • Entities affected by FIA 2000
  • Who can make a request under FIA 2000?
  • Duty of public authority to publish information
  • What a public authority should do when it receives a request for information
  • When a public authority can refuse a request
  • Grounds for withholding information and applying exemptions under FIA 2000
  • What happens when someone complains

The freedom of information regime in the United Kingdom is governed by the following key pieces of legislation:

  1. Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000)

  2. Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, SI 2004/3244

The use of and rights to information are monitored by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The ICO provides guidance to assist public authorities in interpreting FIA 2000. The guidance establishes the parameters of FIA 2000, the obligations for public authorities under FIA 2000 and the rights of members of the public when requesting information. The guidance was updated to version 4.3 in October 2014.

Entities affected by FIA 2000

Public authorities include government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces. A full list of bodies regarded as public authorities is set out in FIA 2000, Sch 1.

All recorded information held by a public authority will be deemed information that is caught by FIA 2000. Information is not limited to official documents; it includes emails, notes, draft documents, recordings of telephone conversations, CCTV footage and metadata.

Where public services are subcontracted to an external company, the third party company is under no obligation to respond to direct freedom of information requests it receives in relation to instruction it holds on behalf of a public authority.

Who can make a