Introduction to freedom of information
Introduction to freedom of information

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

  • Introduction to freedom of information
  • Rights and duties under FIA 2000
  • Making a request under FIA 2000
  • Exemptions under FIA 2000
  • Updates to the freedom of information regime

The freedom of information regime in the UK came fully into force in 2005, and 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

FIA 2000 confers a general right of access to information held by a public authority. Authorities have a duty to confirm or deny whether they hold information as specified in a request. Further, authorities have a duty to communicate information and to provide advice and assistance (respectively, sections 1(1)a, 1(1)(b) and 16 of the FIA 2000).

Rights and duties under FIA 2000

The right to know

FIA 2000 creates a general right for any person to request access to information held by an authority; this is commonly referred to as the right to know. The term 'any person' is very broad and includes individuals or corporations that are located anywhere, even from outside the UK.

The right to know is comprised of two parts. The first is the right to be informed in writing whether information of the description specified in the request is held by the authority, and if that is the case the applicant has the right to have that information communicated to them.

The duty to confirm or deny

The duties