Freedom of Information 2021

Freedom of Information

Almost twenty years on from its passage in 2002, Scotland’s Freedom of Information law sits at a crossroads.

The pandemic led to significant delays in responding to FOI requests, with the Scottish Government recording its worst performance since 2017.

Meanwhile the Scottish Government has announced it plans to consult on potential changes to FOI law in Scotland, following a year-long review into FOISA by the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit and Post-Legislative Scrutiny Committee.

Watch Holyrood Events Freedom of Information 2021 on demand replay where we discussed the potential impact of these reforms, as well as examined best practice in delivery of existing FOI legislation.

This event is CPD certified in principle

Having heard from the Minister for Parliamentary Business and the Scottish Information Commissioner, our focus here will be on the requester’s experience during the pandemic. What challenges were faced and how were they overcome? What lessons have been learned and how could the process be improved in the future? 

This session will examine and explore issues that commonly arise during the Commissioner’s investigation of FOI appeals, with a view to giving delegates with responsibility for FOI the knowledge and skills to help them tackle similar issues in their own day-to-day work. Delegates will hear directly from the Commissioner’s staff about preventable problems that commonly arise, encouraging practitioners to identify and address issues before they can develop into problems, reviews or appeals. 

The session will run as an interactive conversation, with staff from the Commissioner’s office discussing their practical experiences, and delegates encouraged to share their own thoughts and experiences of the issues raised – either from a practitioner perspective, a requester perspective, or any other perspective.

The pandemic has reiterated the importance of timely, trustworthy information from public authorities.  As the Scottish Government prepares to consult on changes to the approach to proactive publication, we will hear from organisations that responded well to the increased demand for information during the pandemic; discuss strategies that could be more widely adopted to improve publication; and explore the role FOI can play in tackling disinformation.  

With the Scottish Government due to consult shortly on the possible extension of FOI, here we will consider what organisations could and should be included in any extension. We’ll also hear how Registered Social Landlords are responding to FOI requests, after they became subject to the legislation in November 2019. 

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