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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

6 - Decisions and Appeals on FOI Exemptions

Summary

‘The Act contains a presumption in favour of disclosure.’

(EA/2005/0027 P. Toms v IC, para. 2)

The previous chapter set out the general framework of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) statutory exemptions and related items including some general points addressed in the case law. This chapter will concentrate on the case law of the exemptions themselves under FOIA. The Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) are dealt with in chapter 7. Excessive cost and vexatious requests have been dealt with and so we can proceed directly to the main body of exemptions under FOIA Pt II.

Those contracting with public authorities (PAs) that are covered by the legislation may attempt to contract out of the legislation's provisions. This is not possible. In EA/2007 R. Salmon v IC and King's College Cambridge the Information Tribunal (IT) stated ‘that no contracting out of basic obligations safeguarded by FOIA can be permissible’ (para. 30). This was given the strongest of support by the High Court in Corporate Officer of the House of Commons v IC et al. A contractor may attempt to identify information which is ‘confidential’ in a schedule and argue that disclosure by a PA would amount to a breach of contract. Such a schedule would in genuine cases of confidentiality be a wise practice.

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