Freedom of Information (FOI) & Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

TRAINING

Your Responsibilities Under the FOI and EIR Access Legislation

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) provides public access to information held by public authorities. They do not have to be UK citizens, or resident in the UK.

The FOIA and EIR is often used by journalists to elicit information about public authorities such as:

  1. government departments, devolved administrations, other public bodies and committees
  2. local councils
  3. schools, colleges and universities
  4. the NHS – including hospitals, GPs, dentists, pharmacists and opticians
  5. publicly owned companies
  6. publicly funded museums, galleries, and theatres
  7. the police and fire services
  8. registered social landlords in Scotland

The FOI Act means that everyone has the right of access to information to help understand how certain organisations or Departments operate, how they spend public money and how and why they make certain decisions.

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) provide public access to environmental information held by public authorities. They can also make an environmental information request to private or public companies that have public responsibilities – like water companies.

Any person making a request for information to a public authority is entitled to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and if that is the case, to have that information communicated to them.

In the event that a public authority should fail to comply with required action specified by the ICO regarding their handling of FOIA or EIR requests, the ICO may certify such to a Court. The Court may inquire into the matter and may deal with the authority as if it had committed a contempt of Court.

This provision also applies should an authority purport to have complied with an Information Notice issued by the ICO by knowingly or recklessly making a statement which is false.

Our FOIA and EIR courses will help you understand:

  • When is information covered by the FOIA/EIR
  • How can individuals request information
  • How long do you have to provide it
  • Can you charge for providing information
  • What can you lawfully withhold and how and when to refuse
  • Key points from the FOI section 45 and Reg 16 EIR code of practice
  • Failure to comply; enforcement tools available to the ICO, penalties and powers to serve an enforcement notice on a public authority under part I of FOIA or parts 2 and 3 of the EIR.
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