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Exemptions and the public interest test

Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) contains 23 exemptions to the right of access.Some are designated ‘absolute’, meaning that if an absolute exemption applies, the duty to provide the information does not apply. Most are known as ‘qualified’ exemptions and require a public interest test to be applied, to decide whether the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in it being disclosed.

Where UCL considers that an exemption is deemed to apply to some or all of the information requested, the applicant will be notified in writing. The relevant exemption will be cited and any information that is not exempt will be provided.

Since the Act contains a presumption in favour of disclosure, in cases where there is equal weight between withholding information and disclosing it, the information will be disclosed.

An indication of the types of exemptions contained within the Act which might apply to UCL are listed below.

Absolute Exemptions
Qualified Exemptions


*In determining whether disclosure would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs (Section 36 of the Act), and the balance of the public interest, the designated Qualified Person will decide. In UCL this is the Provost. For a full listing of the exemptions and more detailed guidance are available from the Information Commissioners’ Office website at: