The Scottish Information Commissioner - It's Public Knowledge
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Briefings and guidance

Arrow IconThe Commissioner has created a range of briefings and guidance to help public authorities understand their obligations under FOISA and the EIRs, and handle requests effectively and professionally.  These resources will also help users of FOI understand the legislation and make effective use of it.  Our full range of current briefings and guidance is listed below, plus links to some relevant Guidance produced by others, including Codes of Practice published by Scottish Ministers. 

If you think there are any gaps in our suite of briefing and guidance publications, or you have specific enquiries you would like help with, please email us or call the Commissioner's Office on 01334 464610. 

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 What's new? 

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Have you seen our new Self-Assessment Toolkit?  It's a new resource to help public authorities review, assess and improve their own FOI performance.  Click here to find out more.

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Guidance on using FOI
Our Your Rights pages have lots of practical advice and resources to help requesters make the best use of their FOI rights. 

Key Concept Briefing Series
Fees and Excessive Cost of Compliance - Sections 9,12 &13; Regulation 8
The Public Interest Test
Vexatious or Repeated Requests - Section 14
Guidance on validity of requests following Court of Session Opinion ('True applicant' and requests for 'documents')
Scottish Ministers' Code of Practice on the Discharge of Functions by Public Authorities (the Section 60 Code)
 PDF iconGuidance on Information Requests, telephone calls and voicemail (PDF - 109 kB)

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  Exemption Briefing Series (FOISA and EIRs)
 Note: We're reviewing and updating our briefings. We're separating out briefings on FOISA and the EIRs. Our guidance on the EIRs exceptions continues to be available in the Exceptions section. If what you want isn't here at the moment, please do contact us, we're happy to help.
  NEWInformation Otherwise Accessible - Section 25
 NEW Prohibitions on Disclosure - Section 26
  NEWInformation Intended for Future Publication - Section 27
NEW  Relations within the United Kingdom - Section 28
  NEWFormulation of Scottish Administration Policy - Section 29
  NEWPrejudice to Effective Conduct of Public Affairs - Section 30 
  NEWNational Security and Defence - Section 31 
  NEWInternational Relations - Section 32
  NEWCommercial Interests and the Economy - Section 33
 NEW Investigations by Scottish Public Authorities - Section 34
NEW  Law Enforcement - Section 35
  NEWConfidentiality - Section 36
  NEWCourt Records - Section 37
  Personal Information - Section 38 & Regulation 11
  NEWHealth, Safety and the Environment - Section 39
  Audit Functions - Section 40NEW
 NEWCommunications with Her Majesty etc. and Honours - Section 41

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 Briefing on Environmental Information and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations (EIRs)
  Introduction to the EIRs
  Definition of Environmental Information
  Public authorities and bodies covered by the EIRs
  Obligations under the EIRs
  Handling requests under the EIRs
 Differences between EIRs and FOISA

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Briefing on Legislation 

Differences between EIRS and FOISA (PDF - 177 kB)

FOISA and FOIA Comparative table (PDF - 129 kB)

 The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Amendment Act 2013 Briefing Note - Updated December 2013PDF icon (PDF - 142kB)

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  Our procedures

Our enforcement policy
The Commissioner's enforcement policy sets out our approach to enforcing freedom of information law in Scotland.  The policy states what will be enforced, and the outcomes we aim to achieve.

PDF iconEnforcement Policy (pdf -151 kB)

Intervention Procedures
This document sets out the procedures that the Commissioner will follow to apply her Enforcement Policy on non-compliance with FOI legislation.

PDF iconIntervention Procedures (pdf - 383 kB)

Responding to Information Requests
Responding to Information Requests: Guidance and Procedures sets out how the Commissioner’s team respond to requests made to us under FOISA, the EIRs and DPA.  It provides advice and guidance to our staff on how to respond to requests and about good FOI practice. The structure of the guidance complements our Self-assessment Toolkit, enabling us to review all or parts of it periodically, to ensure we maintain good practice standards.

PDF iconResponding to Information Requests: Guidance and Procedures (PDF - 488 kB)

Our investigation procedures
We carried out out a detailed review of our procedures when undertaking investigations during 2013/14. Our new procedures are set out in the Commissioner's Investigations Handbook:

PDF iconCommissioner's Investigations Handbook (PDF - 383 kB)

As part of our new investigations procedures, the Commissioner will ask all public authorities submitting documentation in relation to an appeal to also submit a 'schedule of documents'. This will set out the type of document being submitted, and the reason(s) for any non-disclosure of information. You can download a "schedule of documents" form below:

Excel FileSchedule of Documents Form (Excel - 18kB)

PDF icon The Commissioner's Investigations: A Guide for Scottish Public Authorities (PDF - 143 kB)

Our enquiry procedures 
These set out our approach in handling the many hundred enquiries we receive each year.

 Enquiries Guidance and Procedures (PDF - 183 kB)PDF icon

Our information charging policy
This sets our our policy in relation to charging for the information requests we receive.  We very rarely charge fees when responding to a request. 

PDF icon The Commissioner's Information Charging Policy (PDF - 93kB)

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