Guide

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act

Introduction

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act gives the public a right to access information held by public sector organisations.

The Act gives this right to anyone, regardless of age, nationality or country of residence. Public authorities must disclose the information requested, unless they have a good reason not to do so.

The FOI Act applies to public bodies, but it can also affect private businesses that deal with the public sector. For example, companies which carry out public functions, private contractors to public sector, and businesses that provide goods and services to public bodies.

This guide explains how the Freedom of Information Act affects businesses. It describes FOI exemptions: absolute and qualified and issues around FOI and commercial sensitivity.

Finally, it suggests some practical ways to help you manage the risk of disclosure under FOI and use FOI to your business advantage.