Freedom of Information

Introduction

In late 2018, the Upper Tribunal of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal released two significant decisions as to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, section 35, which provides the government a limited basis to withhold communications from disclosure. These are Department for Education v Information Commissioner & Whitmey [2018] UKUT 348 and Cabinet Office v Information Commissioner & Webber [2018] UKUT 410. The cases relate to the 2010 – 2015 Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government (the “Coalition Government”), headed by Prime Minister David Cameron (Conservative) and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat).

FOIA, section 35

Section 35 provides a qualified exemption to disclosure as to information relating to: (1) ministerial communications and (2) the formulation or development of government policy (inter alia). Withholding information from disclosure is justified if the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information (section 35(2(2)(b)). Broadly, the purpose of section 35 is to promote free and frank communications between the government and its advisors.  
Continue Reading Freedom of Information Act 2000 (UK) case update: Upper Tribunal rules in favour of disclosure of ministerial communications

By Tom Jackson and Phil Bradley-Schmieg

A cross-party group of UK Members of Parliament (“MPs”) is seeking to amend the UK’s ‘freedom of information’ regime under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) to also cover current and prospective private sector suppliers to the National Health Service (“NHS”) in England and Wales.

The Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill (HC Bill 84) (the “Bill”) was introduced in the House of Commons on September 1, 2014, and was first published on October 28, 2014.  It was submitted by Labour MP Grahame Morris, with the support of a cross-party group of MPs from the Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Green parties.

If the Bill is enacted, it would place current and prospective suppliers of services to the NHS under significant transparency obligations in relation to:

  • bids, contracts, and service performance for the NHS in England and Wales, and
  • penalties relating to healthcare services imposed on the company, its officers, employees, affiliates or partners during the past five years, anywhere in the world.

This post provides a high-level look at these proposals.Continue Reading UK Parliamentarians Seek FOI Changes To Force Private Sector Suppliers To Disclose NHS Contract Details

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), citizens have a right to obtain documents from federal agencies.  However, agencies may withhold documents from request for several reasons, including to protect “personal privacy.”  Does the exemption for “personal privacy” protect the privacy of corporations in addition to that of individuals?  In its recent decision in Federal