Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), that came into effect on 1 January 2005, applies to all information held by public bodies. It also applies to specifically designated private companies that perform public functions but not to other private companies. However, all of the information that University College London (UCL) holds about companies we have a relationship with is covered by FOIA, as is any information that these companies hold on UCL's behalf.
See below for answers to FAQs related to UCL's suppliers. For additional information, refer to FOI at UCL.
- If I give UCL information on my products or services, will this be subject to the FOIA?
Yes, but that does not mean it will automatically be released if it is requested, as one of the exemptions may apply. We will seek your views before making a decision on disclosure of information that might affect your rights or interests.
- My company holds information on behalf of UCL. How am I affected?
If UCL gets a request for Information that includes information you hold on our behalf, we will ask you to provide it quickly so that we can comply with FOI. UCL is under a statutory duty to reply to all FOIA request within 20 working days.
- What if a request for information comes direct to my company?
You have no obligations to respond to such a request since FOI does not apply to your organisation. If the request relates to information that you hold on behalf of UCL, you should not in any case disclose it without our explicit agreement.
To be helpful to the requester, if the information requested relates to the UCL, you should advise that the request should be submitted to UCL.
- Are there any exemptions that allow UCL to refuse to supply information?
The FOIA provides for two types of exemption: Absolute and Qualified Exemptions.
Where information is covered by an Absolute Exemption, UCL may refuse to release the information and, in some circumstances, can refuse to confirm or deny whether we hold the information. Where Qualified exemptions apply, UCL has to undertake a public interest test to decide whether it is in the public interest to disclose or withhold it.
- Could information I supply to UCL be protected by having a confidentiality clause?
Confidentiality clauses are discouraged under the FOI unless there are genuine commercial and/or legal reasons why the information should be treated as confidential.
Information provided in confidence is only exempt if its disclosure would give rise to an actionable breach of confidence. This is a narrow legal exemption, which applies in limited circumstances and you should not assume that this exemption will apply just because you think information is confidential.
If you consider that information that you provide to UCL is confidential, you should identify the information and provide reasons why you consider the information to be confidential under the FOIA.
- What will UCL do if it receives a request for information that might affect my company?
When considering requests, UCL will consult you about information that may affect your rights or interests, unless we are already certain that we must or must not disclose it. This consultation will help us to decide if an exemption applies and what the considerations are in applying a public interest test about information disclosure. However, the law makes UCL alone, responsible for making the final decision regarding disclosure.
- What happens to tender information after contract is awarded?
Information that was commercially sensitive during the tendering process may no longer be sensitive once contracts have been signed; therefore UCL will consult with you to determine its disclosure as in the previous answer.
- Who at UCL should I contact for further information about specific requests?
In the first instance, please contact the Commercial & Procurement Services Director, Ian Galloway.