About the Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (known as the FOI Act), was introduced in January 2005. It gives people  the right to access official information held by all public authorities (such as the NHS).

The law says that these public authorities must have a scheme to proactively publish this information.

Some main features of the FOI Act include:

  • A general right of access to recorded information held by public authorities, subject to certain conditions and exemptions; in cases where information is exempted from disclosure, except where an absolute exemption applies, a duty on public authorities to:
    • Inform the applicant whether they hold the information requested.
    • Communicate the information to him or her, unless the public interest in maintaining the exemption in question outweighs the public interest in disclosure;
  • A duty on every public authority to adopt and maintain a Publication Scheme.