FRC for you Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information

 
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) was passed on 30 November 2000.  The Act gives a general right of access to information held by public authorities, subject to the exemptions set out in the Act. It also imposes an obligation on public authorities to produce and maintain a Publication Scheme approved by the Information Commissioner. 
 
For the purposes of FOIA, the FRC is designated a public authority for only part of its functions, however from 2 December 2019 the FRC is choosing to voluntarily adopt full coverage under the Act. Further information on the FRC’s part-designation under law, under which we responded to requests until 1 December 2019 is available here
 
This note is designed to help you make a request for information under FOIA. It is not a guide to the Act itself.

The FRC takes seriously its obligations under FOIA and is committed to transparency wherever possible. In some circumstances however, it is not possible to disclose all or any of the information sought by a requestor. Under the Act, public authorities are entitled to withhold information when an appropriate exemption can be applied. Examples of information which might be withheld from disclosure include non-public information about live or past investigations; commercially sensitive information relating to the FRC itself or to one of the bodies we regulate; and personal data about FRC members. The FRC will consider each request under the Act on its own merits and determine whether exemptions might apply to the information we hold. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the FRC to neither confirm nor deny whether we hold any information responsive to the request.
 

How To Apply For Information

  1. Check if we already publish the information you want on our website. 
  2. If you cannot find what you want you can send us an information request by submitting the online form, by email to FOIA@frc.org.uk, or by post:
Freedom of Information Act Requests
Financial Reporting Council
8th Floor
125 London Wall
London,
EC2Y 5AS

Your request must be in writing and must include your name and an address.  
  1. Please be as specific as possible about the information you would like to receive. To help us with our searches, please provide us with any additional information you think might be helpful such as the subject matter and a time frame.
  2. In some cases, we may need to transfer all or part of your request to another body or contact a third party before deciding if we can release information to you (see the sections on Transferring requests and Consultation with third parties, below). Please make clear in your request if you wish to be notified before we take those steps.
  3. If, after having read this note, you require further advice on filling out the form or you are unable to submit a request in writing because of a disability, please contact us by telephone (020 7492 2300) and ask to speak to a member of the FOIA team to discuss alternative arrangements.

How We Will Handle Your Request

  1. Our FOIA team will acknowledge your request and may need to contact you to discuss it.  If so, we will use the contact details you have provided unless you have indicated otherwise.
  2. We have 20 working days following the date on which your request was received in accordance with the Act, in which to respond to your request. The exceptions to this are where:
  • a qualified exemption applies and the public interest test needs to be considered; or
  • clarification is required; or
  • where, after initial consideration of your request, a fee is requested. 
Where a clarification or a fee is required, the 20 working days will begin following the date on which the clarification or the fee is received. Where the public interest test applies, the timescale is extended by a “reasonable period”.  We will tell you within the 20-day period which exemption(s) we believe apply to the information requested and give you our estimate of the date by which we expect to reach a decision regarding the application of this exemption.

Our response will explain if:
  1. We have the information you have asked for and can provide you with a copy of it; or
  2. We have the information, but we cannot give it to you because we are exempt from doing so - in which case we will explain why; or
  3. We are unable to confirm or deny if we have the information - in which case we will explain why.


Fees

We may charge you a fee for responding to your request in accordance with The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. Guidance on the application of these regulations is provided by the Ministry of Justice.
 
We will calculate any fee charged by looking at the costs directly and reasonably incurred in locating the information you have asked for and giving it to you.  We will then send you a Fees Notice which you will have to pay within three months of your request – you will not receive information until you have paid the costs in the fees notice.
 
If the estimated cost of providing the information would be above the appropriate limit set by the government (currently £450, or 18 hours working time) then we will not be under a duty to provide the information.  However, we will inform you if the limit will be exceeded and we will try to let you know what can be provided within the limit.  We will also consider whether it is reasonable to answer your request and charge an appropriate fee.
 
If the cost of providing the information is £450 or less, the FRC may charge for photocopying, printing and postage costs.


Transferring requests

If you have requested information which we believe is held by another public authority, it may be appropriate for you to re-apply to the public authority concerned.  Alternatively, we may transfer your request to another public authority.  Before doing so, we will check that the other public authority holds the information requested.  If you wish to be notified before the FRC transfers your request to another public authority, you should state this in your application.


Consultation with third parties

We may notify third parties if a request for information about them is made. We may also need to consult third parties (including another public authority) in order to reach a decision on whether we can release information that you have requested.  If you wish to be notified before the FRC consults a third party about your request, you should state this in your application.


Exemptions

There are a number of exemptions under the Act and we may not be able to give you the information you have asked for. Detailed guidance on exemptions and how they may be applied can be found on the Information Commissioner’s website.


The Public Interest Test

Some of the exemptions in the Act require us to undertake a public interest test.  This means that even if the information is exempt, we must consider if there is a greater public interest in releasing the information to you.  If we decide the public interest is better served by keeping the information exempt, then we will explain our reasons for this decision.
 
Below are some examples of exemptions that we think are most relevant to the kind of information we hold.
 
Absolute exemptions - the public interest test does not apply
  • Information accessible by other means
  • Personal information
  • Information provided in confidence
Non-Absolute exemptions – the public interest test applies
  • Information intended for future publication
  • Law enforcement
  • Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs
  • Legal professional privilege
  • Commercial interests


Internal review:

If you are not satisfied with a decision to provide or withhold information in response to your request or decision to levy a fee, you can request an Internal Review of that decision.
 
Please send your request for an internal review to the FOIA team at foia@frc.org.uk or, in writing to
 
Freedom of Information Act Requests
Financial Reporting Council
8th Floor
125 London Wall
London,
EC2Y 5AS
 
We aim to handle all internal reviews in 20 working days. Please see our Internal Review Process for further details.
 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you also have a right of appeal to the ICO.


Disclosure Log

All FOIA requests made to the FRC since April 2008, are recorded in our disclosure log (Here).

Specific details of information provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request may be requested from us at foia@frc.org.uk


Copyright statement

Unless otherwise stated, we own the copyright and any other rights in all material in this scheme. The FRC information may be reproduced in accordance with The Copyright Act 1988 and within Copyright Licensing Agency guidelines. Where information is reproduced, it must be reproduced accurately, not used in a misleading context and an appropriate acknowledgement must be inserted.
 
Permission to reproduce material does not extend to any material accessed through the Scheme that is in the copyright of third parties. You must obtain permission to reproduce such information from the copyright holder concerned.
 
Information made available under this Scheme must not be reproduced, copied or otherwise used for any commercial purposes.
 
Publications which can be accessed by the FRC website may be printed and downloaded on the conditions set out in the Copyright statement on the FRC website.
 
Read the full text of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 here (Office of Public Sector Information website).
 
Find out more from the regulator here (the Information Commissioner's Office website)

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