Who is subject to the freedom of information regime

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

  • Who is subject to the freedom of information regime
  • Public authorities
  • Listed public authorities
  • Public authorities designated by order of the Secretary of State
  • Publicly-owned companies
  • Exclusions
  • Information held on behalf of another person
  • Public authorities with limited application
  • Security bodies not subject to the regime

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) grants a right of access to information held by public authorities. Under this right, any person making a valid request for information to a public authority is entitled:

  1. to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds the information requested, and

  2. if that is the case, to have that information communicated to them

As a result public authorities have a corresponding duty to confirm or deny in writing whether such information is held and if it is, to communicate that information to the applicant. The regime applies to 'public authorities', a term which is defined by FIA 2000 as any body which, any other person who, or the holder of any office which is:

  1. listed in Schedule 1 to FIA 2000

  2. designated as such by an order of the Secretary of State, or

  3. a publicly owned company

This Practice Note examines who is caught by the regime. For more information on the topic generally see Practice Notes:

  1. Introduction to freedom of information

  2. Compliance with a freedom of information request

  3. Absolute exemptions to a freedom of information request

  4. Qualified exemptions to a freedom of information request

For guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on who is subject to the regime see:

  1. What is the Freedom of Information Act?

  2. Are we covered by the Act?

  3. Public authorities

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