Freedom of information
Since the full introduction of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) in 2005, getting access to publicly recorded data has never been easier. With requests from the general public, potential litigators and the media, public authorities and their contractors are under pressure to respond. We can advise on these often commercially or politically sensitive requests, ensuring your members and officers stay within the law, and assist you in handling any investigations by the Information Commissioner's Office.
What we do
- Our clients - public authorities and contractors to public authorities.
- Specialist legal advice - from disclosure of third party personal data, appropriate fees limit and the application of the public interest test, to recent decisions by the Information Commissioner’s Office, and on the application of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) and restrictive exemptions.
- Experts in our field - advising clients daily on their obligations under FOIA and EIR and how to apply the exemptions and exceptions from disclosure of information.
- Experienced team - having supported clients with requests from The Guardian, News of the World, and MPs acting on behalf of constituents.
- Regular training courses - on FOIA and EIR and recent decisions by the Information Commissioner’s Office that enforce it.
Public authority client: FOIA from a national newspaper
Advising a public authority client who received a request for the disclosure of documentation under FOIA from a journalist at a national newspaper. There were concerns over the disclosure of minutes from a board meeting where a sensitive issue was discussed. We advised on the application of two complicated statutory exemptions from disclosure and provided the client with a letter for onward transmission to the journalist setting out the reasons for not disclosing the board meeting minutes.
Disclosure request from a leading sector publication
Advising a client who received a request for the disclosure of contents of a confidential report from a leading sector publication. The request was refused by our client and referred to the Information Commissioner. We advised our client as to ways in which it could strengthen its position by relying on additional exemptions and providing further analysis. We drafted a robust response to the Information Commissioner who accepted our arguments in relation to one of the exemptions and upheld our client’s refusal to disclose the report.
Request for information on the legal advice obtained by our client from another public sector body
Instructing Counsel to appear for a client at the Upper Tribunal following a request for information on the legal advice obtained by our client from another public sector body. The requestor was relying upon the EIR, was not represented and did not attend the appeal hearing. We worked with the Information Commissioner’s Office to ensure the Upper Tribunal had all relevant material before it when considering the appeal which was subsequently dismissed.
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