HCR Law Events

Freedom of Information Requests

We act for clients on both sides of freedom of information requests: those requesting specific pieces of information to be placed in the public domain, and, more commonly, public authorities subject to such requests.

Navigating the complexities

The Freedom of Information Act 2000, or FOIA, enables members of the public to gain access to information held by public authorities. The Act applies to public authorities such as government departments, local authorities, the NHS, state schools and police forces but there are some important exemptions, including private sector organisations which perform public functions. If the FOIA applies, its impact is twofold:

  • It requires public authorities to publish certain information about their activities
  • It permits members of the public to request specific information from public authorities provided that the information does not fall into one of the exempt categories under the FOIA.

Ascertaining whether the FOIA applies to an organisation can become complicated. We can assist with all elements of a freedom of information request from start to finish, from helping you determine whether your organisation is subject to the FOIA and therefore legally required to respond to any freedom of information requests it receives, to advising on the merits of your case.

How can we help you?

Our expertise

We can provide commercial, no-frills advice on:

  • Making freedom of information requests
  • Ascertaining whether information is exempt from being disclosed
  • Advising on a public authority’s obligations under the FOIA
  • Defending a public authority’s refusal to provide information it feels is exempt under the FOIA
  • The various stages of and preparation for the litigation process if necessary.

We have significant experience of handling appeals involving freedom of information requests and have acted for clients on both sides of freedom of information requests: for members of the public requesting information, and for public authorities seeking to determine whether they are required to publish this information.

Our team can provide specialist advice on FOIA appeals, and we’re well suited to assist with either challenging or making a request.

Our clients range from large corporate clients and government organisations to individuals seeking the publication of specific information it considers to be in the public interest.

Clients include the University of Cambridge in responding to a number of First Tier Tribunal appeals concerning information that was withheld under the commercial interests exemption of the FOIA.  We have also advised on vexatious freedom of information requests when acting for various charities and parish councils to protect them from undue disruption.

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