The book is a comprehensive guide to the law of freedom of Information in the United Kingdom. It provides detailed coverage of all four of the UK access to information regimes: the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, and includes up-to-date copies of the legislation in the Appendices. There have been rapid developments in the law of freedom of information since it first came into effect on 1 January 2005, and thanks in part to a torrent of decisions on the part of the two Commissioners and also by the tribunals and higher courts since then, the law has reached a relatively mature stage with remarkable speed. These developments are examined in this book, and in particular the extensive changes introduced by the Data Protection Act 2018 as a consequence of the implementation of the GDPR are also fully covered.
- The focus throughout is on the four access to information regimes (the FOIA, the FOISA, the EIR and the EISR), and each regime is given thorough and equal attention.
- The similarities and differences between the regimes are highlighted, and in particular the position of a public authority which (as is usually the case) is subject both to a freedom of information act and to environmental information regulations is considered in relation to the particular aspects of the two relevant regimes which affect it, e.g. the options for refusing a request depending on whether or not the information is environmental.
- The origin and scope of each regime (e.g. the European law background to the environmental information regulations), the questions of who is a public authority, and what information is covered, are all given detailed treatment.
- Making a request under the access regimes, handling requests, and procedures for refusals and complaints are the subject of separate chapters, as is pro-active publication of information.
- There is extensive coverage of the exemptions in the four regimes, concerning how they operate, focusing on exemptions in the freedom of information acts, on the exceptions in the regimes for environmental information, and also several chapters on subject-specific areas such as confidentiality, criminal investigations and personal data.
- Harm tests and public interest tests are explained and demonstrated by reference to decided cases.
- The law is considered by reference to decisions of the tribunals (in relation to the FOIA and the EIR) and any rulings of the higher courts, and also by reference to the numerous decisions of, and extensive guidance provided by, the Information Commissioner and the Scottish Information Commissioner.
- There is a wide range of other law relevant to all aspects of FoI, (e.g. in relation to such diverse topics as human rights, legal privilege and public procurement), which is brought into the discussion of the access regimes at appropriate points; there are also comparisons with approaches to FoI in other jurisdictions.
- There is a separate chapter dealing with the role of the Commissioners, including enforcement, and another on the tribunal and appeals.
- There is a dedicated chapter on public records and records management.