Exemptions and Exceptions
Whilst the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) creates a right of access to information held by Ashford Borough Council, it also sets out a number of exemptions where that right of access does not apply or is qualified.
Ashford Borough Council's Policy on Access to Information
- To make information available to all those who need or request it, wherever possible in the form that is most convenient for them
- To publicise information already made available by maximising the use of the council's publication scheme
- To make access to the publication scheme (and information referred to in it) as easy as possible, particularly through the council's website
- To presume that information is available unless the council can demonstrate a legitimate reason for withholding it
- To restrict the scope of information withheld from the public, by interpreting exemptions restrictively, and separating exempt from non-exempt material
Public Interest Test (PI)
In the majority of cases where an exemption applies to some or all of the information requested, the council will have to consider whether it must override the exemption because it is in the public interest to release the information.
This public interest test (PI) involves considering the circumstances of each particular case and the exemption that covers the information. The balance will lie in favour of disclosure, in that information may only be withheld if the public interest in withholding it is greater than the public interest in releasing it.
Absolute Exemptions (AE)
However, there are also some exemptions where, if the exemption applies, it is not necessary to go on to consider disclosure in the public interest. These are called the Absolute Exemptions (AE).
Application of Exemptions
The attached table of exemptions are listed in order of relevance to Ashford Borough Council, with the more relevant ones being listed first.
- Those exemptions ending with PI indicate that the public interest test must be applied before deciding whether disclosure can take place
- Those exemptions ending with AE indicate that an absolute exemption applies and it is not necessary to consider the public interest in disclosure
- Those ending with ND indicate a Non Disclosure and although an exemption does not apply, disclosure by the council is not necessary for the stated reasons
Other acts of Parliament with provisions regarding the disclosure of information are listed below, although this list is not exhaustive:
- Enterprise Act 2002
- The Audit Commission Act 1998
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Human Rights Act 1998
- Environmental Information Regulations 1992
- Public Works Contracts Regulations 1991
- Public Services Contract Regulations 1993
- Public Supply Contract Regulations 2006
Information which may be requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 may be subject to copyright protections. If a requester wishes to use any such information in a way that would infringe copyright, for example by making multiple copies, or issuing copies to the public, they would require a licence from the copyright holder.
These guidelines provide and overview of the exemptions that may be applies under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. It also contains examples of other disclosure provisions and advice on copyright legislation. If you have any queries regarding these guidelines please contact:
Data Protection Officer
Ashford Borough Council
Kent TN23 1PL