FOISA exemptions to the release of information

FOISA exemptions to the release of information

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) provides the general right of access to all recorded information that is held by the University. Some information may be exempt from disclosure by the University if it is considered appropriate and relevant that one of FOISA's exemptions applies. Many of these exemptions are not absolute and are subject to a public interest test and a harm test.

The University is committed to a policy of meeting its obligations under FOISA to allow access to University information, unless a specific and valid exemption applies. Only the information to which an exemption applies can be withheld. That is, if a particular document is requested which contains some exempt information, only those specific pieces of exempt information can be withheld. The rest of the document has to be released.

The exemptions typically relate to information that may be accessible by other means, commercially sensitive information, and to personal information that relates to individuals other than the enquirer. The potential use of any of these exemptions, except for section 25 - information otherwise accessible, must be passed via your FOI Coordinator to the Data Protection and Freedom of Information Office, who will assess the case for or against the use of any exemption.

For information, the exemptions and their associated section of FOISA are:

  • section 25: Information otherwise accessible
  • section 26: Prohibitions on disclosure
  • section 27: Information intended for future publication
  • section 28: Relations within the United Kingdom
  • section 29: Formulation of Scottish Administration policy etc.
  • section 30: Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs
  • section 31: National security and defence
  • section 32: International relations
  • section 33: Commercial interests and the economy
  • section 34: Investigations by Scottish public authorities and proceedings arising out of such investigations
  • section 35: Law enforcement
  • section 36: Confidentiality
  • section 37: Court records, etc.
  • section 38: Personal information
  • section 39: Health, safety and the environment
  • section 40: Audit functions
  • section 41: Communications with Her Majesty etc. and honours

The Scottish Information Commissioner has comprehensive briefing notes on the exemptions and on the application of both the public interest test and the harm test.