FOI & Environmental Information Regulations - exemptions

Freedom of Information (FoI) Act exemptions

The FoI Act enables people to request specific information held by public bodies, but there are also a number cases where information may not be disclosed which are called exemptions. The two main types of exemptions that apply to information held by West Oxfordshire District Council are:

Qualified exemptions

These are where information must be disclosed unless it can be argued that the public interest in withholding it is greater than the public interest in releasing it. This applies to:

  • Information intended for future publication
  • Investigations and proceedings conducted by us
  • Law enforcement
  • Health and safety
  • Environmental information
  • Legal professional privilege
  • Commercial interests
  • Where disclosure would be prejudicial to the effective conduct of the Councils affairs.

Absolute exemptions

These are where the information will not be disclosed, including:

  • Information accessible to the applicant by other means
  • Court records and other similar documentation
  • Personal information
  • Information provided in confidence by a third party where disclosure would give rise to an actionable breach of confidence.

Environmental Information Regulations exceptions

Information can be withheld if it would adversely affect any of the matters below, though most of these are subject to a Public Interest Test to assess whether the public interest in withholding it is greater than the public interest in releasing it:

  • International relations
  • Defence and national security
  • Public safety
  • The course of justice, including court proceedings within a public authority
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Legal confidentiality of any proceedings within a public authority
  • Commercial confidentiality designed to protect legitimate economic interests
  • Voluntarily supplied information from people who have not consented to its disclosure
  • The environment to which the information relates.

Other exceptions (some of which are also subject to a Public Interest Test) include:

  • Requests that are manifestly unreasonable or too general
  • Incomplete or unfinished information such as draft reports or other work in progress
  • Internal communications from within the authority
  • Personal data

West Oxfordshire District Council
New Yatt Road
OX28 1PB