Access to information

The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) gives people the right to request information from public authorities. It is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public sector bodies.

The Act is therefore aimed at facilitating better public understanding of how public authorities carry out their duties, the decisions they make and how they spend public money.

The Act gives people a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities and places a number of obligations upon them.

There are a number of exemptions which are designed to protect confidential or other information, which it may not be in the best interests of the public to release.

The Act sets out the requirements for making information available, which includes:-

  • Public authorities must state the classes of information they hold in a publication scheme
  • Publication schemes have to be approved by the Information Commissioner
  • Public authorities must make their information available to individuals upon request

For detailed information on the Freedom of Information Act please go to the Department of Constitutional Affairs

If you think a decision is unfair or that an exemption has been used in the wrong way you can contact the Information Commissioner.