Blackstone's Guide to the Freedom of Information Act 2000

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OUP Oxford, May 26, 2011 - Law - 284 pages
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The Blackstone's Guide Series delivers concise and accessible books covering the latest legislative changes and amendments. Published soon after enactment, they offer expert commentary by leading names on the scope, extent and effects of the legislation, plus a full copy of the Act itself. They offer a cost-effective solution to key information needs and are the perfect companion for any practitioner needing to get up to speed with the latest changes. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into force on 1 January 2005, creating a new statutory 'right to open government'. It has imposed new duties on public authorities regarding the disclosure and handling of information. The new edition of this popular Blackstone's Guide provides a comprehensive overview of the Act, combined with comment and analysis on the effect of the legislation. It incorporates and discusses the case law and decisions emerging from the Information Commissioner, Information Tribunal/First-tier Tribunal, and the High Court, including Her Majesty's Treasury v ICO, British Union for the Abolition of Anti Vivisection v Home Office and ICO, and Home Office and MOJ v ICO, as well as relevant decisions of the Scottish Information Commissioner. It also includes analysis of the replacement of the Information Tribunal by the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) and the Upper Tribunal. Up-to-date with all changes since the publication of the previous edition, and containing a fully updated copy of the Act, this Blackstone's Guide is an essential purchase for all those involved in receiving requests for access under the Act.
 

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THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000: GET UP TO SPEED ON THE LATEST VIA THIS OUTSTANDINGLY CONCISE AND ACCESSIBLE GUIDE
An Appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green
Chambers
Once again the Blackstone’s Guide series on new(ish) statutes published by the Oxford University Press has come up trumps in fulfilling its remit to publish topical and contemporary commentary by experts on recent (or recently amended) legislation.
This time it’s the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which comes under the microscope of informed, concise scrutiny within this latest Blackstone’s Guide.
This title now appears in its fourth edition in this very handy paperback format. Here you have the latest on this often controversial, sometimes bewilderingly contradictory, piece of legislation which on occasion seems to have lent itself to a variety of interpretations, some of them quite possibly unintended by those who drafted it, although one wonders.
For example, check out the actual wording of the Act given in its entirety in this excellent Guide, especially Section 9 (Fees) and Section13 (Fees for disclosure where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit). And don’t forget your request for information can be refused under certain provisions of Section 17 (Refusal of Request).
As the publishers rightly point out, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which came into force on 1st January 2005, created a new statutory ‘right to open government’ and imposed new duties on public authorities regarding the disclosure and handling of information.
Certainly, the Act has been used and can be used to good effect. Freedom of information campaigners regarded it as a major step forward in the eternal struggle against bureaucratic opacity, by establishing the ‘right to open government’ as a basic principle.
Broadly welcomed as a concept, the Act has all too often, however, become a bit of a cash cow, capable of being used by the calculating and unscrupulous to give out information all right, but as a price. (Check out those sections on fees again).
Ordinary folk find themselves having to pay, for example, for information that they should have as a matter of right under this very legislation, including, in some cases, their own witness statements. (Would you believe it, you may have to pay for a copy/transcript of your own witness statement which you have given to the police.) Like the current wildly controversial super injunctions, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 has evolved too often unfortunately as a ‘friend of the rich.’
All of which points up the necessity of acquiring this book if you are in any way involved as a practitioner in FoI issues. The book should also be of interest to journalists, members of pressure groups and other concerned individuals.
As observed in the Preface,’ the Act is certainly not flawless’, with the number and scope of its exemptions having been widely criticized, even though ‘it has proved an extremely useful tool for many different kinds of applicant….’
This new edition is completely up to date, incorporating all changes made to the legislation since the previous edition. Most usefully, there are impressive tables of cases, legislation, European legislation and also a table of treaties and conventions.
So, if you’re involved in making and receiving requests for access under the Act, this book is undoubtedly required reading and an essential purchase.
The law is stated as at 1 March 2011.
 

Contents

1 FREEDOM OF INFORMATIONAN INTRODUCTION
1
2 FREEDOM OF INFORMATION IN EUROPE AND OTHER JURISDICTIONS
21
3 ACCESS TO INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACTRIGHTS AND DUTIES
35
4 APPLICATIONS FOR INFORMATIONPROCEDURE
53
5 EXEMPT INFORMATION GENERAL ISSUES
77
6 ABSOLUTE EXEMPTIONS
87
7 QUALIFIED EXEMPTIONS
113
8 ENFORCEMENT
155
APPENDIX 1 Freedom of Information Act 2000 as amended to February 2010
171
APPENDIX 2 The Environmental Information Regulations 2004
249
INDEX
263
Copyright

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About the author (2011)


John Wadham is a solicitor and Group Director of the Legal Directorate of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He is the author of a number of other publications including the Blackstone's Guides to the Human Rights Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the Identity Cards Act. He was previously the Deputy Chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and, before that, the Director of Liberty (the human rights organization). He has acted for clients in most of the courts and tribunals in this country, including in the Court of Appeal and House of Lords but he specialized in cases before the European Commission and Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Kelly Harris is a solicitor at the Treasury Solicitors Department, specializing in public law, including freedom of information and human rights. Kelly has previously worked in both the private and public sectors in England, Scotland, and New Zealand. She has written and spoken widely on freedom of information matters.

George Peretz is a barrister at Monckton Chambers, specializing in competition law, EU law and freedom of information. George has acted for both public sector and private clients in the Information Tribunal/First-tier tribunal and is on the Treasury Solicitor's FOIA panel. He is a contributor to Bellamy & Child: European Community Law of Competition.

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