Freedom of information

Secretariat

Registers of Scotland
Departmental security group
Policies and procedures

Department

Secretariat

Topic

Freedom of information (FOI)

Number

SEC02

Amended

Secretariat

Legislative framework

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) section 1 states:

"A person who requests information from a Scottish public authority which holds it is entitled to be given it by the authority."

FOISA aims to increase openness and accountability in government and across the public sector by ensuring that people have the right to access information held by Scottish public authorities. People can see and question how such bodies function and how decisions are made. The presumption is that information should be released unless a statutory exemption applies.

The legislation is enforced by the Scottish Information Commissioner. The commissioner is an independent public official and has powers to ensure compliance, including dealing with complaints. There is a right of internal review if the requester is not satisfied with the initial response given and there is also a further right of appeal to the commissioner. His decision may support the original response or he may order a full or partial disclosure of any information withheld. Further right of appeal are to the Court of Session and ultimately to the Supreme Court.

RoS and FOI

The Keeper of the Registers of Scotland is classed as a scottish public authority under FOISA. The act requires RoS to maintain a publication scheme which sets out the classes of information which RoS publishes and includes further details about the operation of FOISA at RoS, including the complaints procedures.

However, FOISA does not change the legal status of the public registers which have always been are publicly accessible. RoS continues to charge fees for access to information from the registers in terms of the current fees order.

In practice, most FOI requests to RoS are for information from our archives relating to specific properties or for information from our corporate directorates.

Staff responsibilities under FOISA

  • All staff in RoS have a duty to deal with requests timeously by following RoS policy and procedures
    (see below)
  • The secretariat team coordinate the process and offer advice on the interpretation of FOI requests
  • Julie Mitchell is the lead FOI compliance officer and FOI review officer

Policy and procedures

The RoS freedom of Information policy sets out more information about how we deal with FOI requests.

Important points to remember 

Written requests only

Any request for information under FOISA must be in writing and include details of the enquirer's name and the address to which the response should be sent.

FOI request or not?

There is no requirement for an enquirer to quote the Act - if someone asks for information held by RoS then the request is treated as an FOI request unless it is a standard request for information from the registers.

Timescales

There is a strict time limit of 20 working days to issue a response to a request and therefore it is crucial that the request is passed to secretariat on the day of receipt.