Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act came into force in January 2005. It deals primarily with access to information. Essentially, it means that everyone is entitled to ask any public body for all the information they have on any subject. People can also ask to see personal information held about them. Public authorities must comply with a request within 20 working days. However, some exemptions apply, for example if:

  • The costs of complying exceed a certain limit
  • The request is similar to a previous request that has been made and refused
  • The request is designed to cause distress.

The Act is fully retrospective and applies to all information, not just that which came into force after the law was passed. Scotland has its own Freedom of Information Act.

For more information on this area, please visit the Information Commissioners Office website

Information Commissioners Office website