Freedom of Information Act


Freedom of Information Act - exemptions

Exemptions fall into 2 categories
  • Absolute
  • Qualified

Briefly these are:

Absolute exemptions

The council may not even have to disclose if information exists if it falls into one of these classes.

  • S21 Information accessible by other means
  • S23 National security
  • S32 Court records
  • S34 Parliamentary privilege
  • S40 Personal information - about the applicant
  • S41 Information provided in confidence
  • S44 Prohibition on disclosure

Qualified exemptions

The council must consider if information in these classes is in the public interest* to disclose or withhold.

  • S21 Already available
  • S22 Future publication
  • S24 National security
  • S25 security certificates
  • S26 Defence or armed forces
  • S27 International relations
  • S28 Relations within the UK
  • S29 The economy of the UK
  • S30 Investigations/proceedings
  • S31 Law enforcement
  • S33 Audit functions
  • S35 Government policy
  • S36 Effective conduct of public affairs
  • S37 Communications with Her Majesty
  • S38 Health & safety
  • S39 Environmental information
  • S40 Personal information, 3rd party requests
  • S42 Legal professional privilege
  • S43 Commercial interests

Public interest test

The public interest test is the mechanism used to determine if the information being requested should be disclosed into the public domain. Much of the information is already available and request responses detail how to locate the information; however, many requests relate to information that until now has not been made public.

The information being requested is considered against one or more of the exemptions above. If the council feels that one or more exemptions may restrict or prevent the information being disclosed the council uses the test to consider if the information can be released.

  • Does the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweigh the duty to disclose?
  • If the reasons are evenly balanced the council will disclose the information
  • You will be notified if one or more of the exemptions has prevented some or all of the information being released.

You have the right to challenge any exemption decisions.