Freedom of Information Solicitors

If you have received a Freedom of Information request and are unsure whether you need to comply with it or not, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our Data and Privacy Law team are on hand and available to provide specialist advice, assistance, and training in relation to all things FOI and would be happy to assist.

The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) provides public access to certain information held by public authorities. This is done in one of two ways. The FOI obliges public authorities to publish certain information in relation to their activities publically. The FOI also permits members of the public to request information from public authorities, this is known as a Freedom of Information Request.

Who is a Public Authority for the purposes of FOI?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) provides public access to certain information held by public authorities. This is done in one of two ways. The FOI obliges public authorities to publish certain information in relation to their activities publically. The FOI also permits members of the public to request information from public authorities, this is known as a Freedom of Information Request.

What can a member of the public request?

The FOI includes all recorded information held by the public authority. It is not limited to information generated specifically by that public authority, so it can also include information the public authority has received from external sources. It does not matter what format the data is stored in, electronic copy, emails, hard copy letters, drafts, and notes are all equally encompassed under the FOI.

Individuals cannot request their personal data from public authorities via a FOI. If an individual seeks access to their personal data, they must submit a Subject Access Request under the GDPR.

Do we have to comply with an FOI?

There are a number of exemptions that can apply in order to prevent a public authority from making the requested information available. For example, if disclosing the requested information may have a direct and real risk of causing a negative consequence, the public authority need not comply with the request.

Is FOI compatible with other data protection laws?

The purpose of FOI is to provide transparency and remove unnecessary secrets in relation to the work carried out by public authorities. On the face of it, this may seem to compete with the GDPR’s aim of an individual’s right to privacy however the FOI and GDPR are not necessarily incompatible with each other.

When complying with a FOI request, it may be that an individual’s personal data is included in the information to be provided to the member of the public. This requires a balancing exercise to be undertaken to assess whether you are legally able to release the personal data under the FOI. The lawful reasons for processing under the GDPR should be considered.

How long do we have to comply with a FOI and can we charge?

You should comply with a FOI promptly. Most public authorities have up to 20 working days, starting with the day after the request was received, to comply, although this should be treated as the maximum amount of time permitted.

The FOI permits you to charge a fee in order to recover your costs of complying with the request, such as photocopying, printing and postage.

How Lupton Fawcett can help you

We have experienced Data Protection Solicitors ready to answer your enquiries about any data protection law issues via email or telephone.

Lupton Fawcett are a leading personal and commercial law firm in Yorkshire with well-established offices of highly experienced solicitors in Leeds, Sheffield and York.

We provide a personalised service, with sector specialists and extensive resources to ensure we are giving you the best solutions to your problems.

Within every area of law, we put your interests first.

Our specialist Freedom of Information Solicitors work regularly with clients across the United Kingdom including Bradford, Birmingham, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Sheffield, York and Nottingham.

We can support your needs wherever you live in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland.

We will always respond promptly, and we will be happy to help.

 

 

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