Your rights under the Freedom of Information Act
Updated: 23 Apr 2014
The Freedom of Information Act came into force on 1st January 2005. The Act seeks to promote a culture of openness within public administration and aims to balance three rights:
- The right to information
- The right to confidentiality
- The right to effective public administration.
The underlying principle of the Act is that all information held by a public authority should be freely available, apart from a number of exempt items.
The Act places 2 main obligations upon public authorities -
To adopt and maintain a publication scheme
Our publication scheme can be viewed online. Just use the search at the top of the page to find what you need.
To comply with requests for information
From 1 January 2005, each public authority must comply with requests for the information that it holds, unless an exemption from disclosure applies.
The Freedom of Information Act gives everyone two specific separate rights:
- The right to know whether information exists
- The right to ask for access to information.
Public authorities will normally have a maxium of twenty working days to respond to the request; however, there are circumstances when this time limit can be extended.
Section 84 of the Act defines information as ‘information recorded in any form’, this includes:
- any paper or electronic documentation and
- information held by public authorities regardless of when that information was created or how long it has been held by the public authority.