FOI and the legal profession

Heather Brooke looks at the how the FOI Act exempts the judicial system from scrutiny. Courts are not considered public bodies under the Act.

One question about the new FOI laws is whether they will increase or reduce litigation. In America any appeal under FOI must be pursued through the courts, but in the UK there are the independent Information Commissioners to appeal to and, in the case of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Information Tribunal.

In the past many unecessary lawsuits were filed as this was the only way to access the information required. However, evidence of wrongdoing obtained through FOI requests may in future lead to more litigation as people find stronger grounds on which to sue public bodies.

New openness regime will keep many lawyers in work (The Times, 11 January 2005). Also available on Heather Brooke's website: