Q&As

What must a public authority disclose in response to a request, including a request for personal data of its staff, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000?

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Published on LexisPSL on 27/04/2016

The following Local Government Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What must a public authority disclose in response to a request, including a request for personal data of its staff, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000?
  • Freedom of Information regime
  • Exemptions to the FOI regime
  • Absolute exemptions for personal information
  • Qualified exemptions for personal information

Freedom of Information regime

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) grants a right of access to information held by public authorities. This general right is referred to as the ‘right to know’. The right to know is comprised of two parts; the right to be informed in writing whether information requested is held by the authority, and if so the right for the requester to have that information communicated to them. See Practice Note: Introduction to freedom of information for general information on rights and duties under the freedom of information (FOI) regime.

Our Practice Note: Who is subject to the freedom of information regime provides information on those public authorities that are subject to the FOI regime. FIA 2000, Sch 1 lists a number of bodies which it classifies as public authorities for this purpose (authorities). Our Practice Note: Compliance with a freedom of information request provides the key points for authorities to consider when complying with a freedom of information request.

In addition to responding to requests, under FIA 2000, s 19 authorities must adopt and maintain an approved scheme, detailing the authority's commitment to publishing selected information in its possession (regardless of whether the information is requested or not). The Information Commissioner devised a model publication scheme that authorities must adopt for this purpose. See ICO—Model Publication Scheme.. The model scheme includes

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