The Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 received Royal Assent on 30 November
copy of the Act is available from the HMSO
website A copy of the
explanatory notes published with the Act is also available on their
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides clear statutory rights for
those requesting information together with a strong enforcement regime.
Under the terms of the Act, any member of the public will be able to apply
for access to information held by bodies across the public sector.
The legislation will apply to a wide range of public authorities, including
Parliament, Government Departments and local authorities, health trusts,
doctors' surgeries, publicly funded museums and thousands of other organisations.
The main features of the Act are:
- a general right of access to information held by public authorities
in the course of carrying out their public functions, subject to certain
conditions and exemptions;
- in most cases where information is exempted from disclosure there is
a duty on public authorities to disclose where, in the view of the public
authority, the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest
in maintaining the exemption in question;
- a new office of Information Commissioner (see link below for website),
and a new Information Tribunal, with wide powers to enforce the rights
- a duty imposed on public authorities to adopt a scheme for the publication
of information. The schemes, which must be approved by the Commissioner,
will specify the classes of information the authority intends to publish,
the manner of publication and whether the information is available to
the public free of charge or on payment of a fee.
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