The Freedom of Information Act 2000
Guidance to Third Parties / Contractors
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 ('the FoI Act') came fully into force in January 2005. This guidance note explains Richmondshire District Council's ('the Council') obligations under the Act and how these obligations might affect you.
The FoI Act provides for a general right of access to all information held by public authorities, with a few exemptions. Therefore, an individual can make a request, in writing, for any information held by the Council and, unless an exemption applies, the Council has a duty to inform the individual whether or not it holds the requested information. If the Council does hold the information requested, then we must provide a copy of that information to the individual within 20 working days of receiving their request.
Any information held by the Council that has been received from you will be subject to the Act and may therefore be released if requested. There is a class of exemptions under Section 43 (1) and (2) of the FoI Act that states:
"(1) Information is exempt information if it constitutes a trade secret. (2) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person."
It is worth considering whether or not these exemptions would apply to any of the information you supply to the Council, and if so, you could mark this information or otherwise bring it to the attention of the Council.
The Council intends to be fully compliant with the FoI Act, and one of our obligations under the Lord Chancellor's Code of Practice is to consult with third parties before taking a decision whether or not to release any information that may affect them. With this in mind, it is important that you ensure that the Council has up-to-date contact details for the person who will respond to any request for consultation. It is also important that any response to this consultation be made quickly, otherwise the Council may have to take the decision without your input.
Please note that simply marking all information supplied to the Council with words such as 'commercial in confidence' does not in itself make all of that information exempt from disclosure. We would still have to consider whether or not a duty of confidence applies or whether release "would, or would be likely to, prejudice" your interests.
For further information please email:
or telephone 01748 829100.