Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs

Guidance on the use of FOISA section 30

Section 30 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) exempts information from disclosure where disclosure would, or would be likely to, cause substantial harm to one or more of the following:

  • the maintenance of the convention of the collective responsibility of the Scottish Ministers
  • the free and frank provision of advice
  • the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation
  • the effective conduct of public affairs

All of the exemptions in section 30 are subject to the public interest test. This means that, even if the exemption applies, the information must be disclosed unless the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.

The exemptions don't last forever. In general, they can't be applied to information that is more than 15 years old.

With the section 30 exemptions, a public authority can refuse to confirm or deny whether it holds the information, provided the authority is satisfied that revealing whether the information exists or is held would be contrary to the public interest (section 18 of FOISA).

Download the briefing

Section 30 exemption briefing

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