Organisations not subject to FOI law


Not all organisations in Scotland are subject to FOI law. This means you do not have rights to access the information they hold.

Of course, such organisations may choose to respond to you, but you don't have the same legal rights.

Examples of organisations not subject to FOI

Here are some examples of types of organisations that are not subject to FOI law:

  • Individual Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) and elected councillors
  • Political parties
  • Companies that are not wholly publicly owned
  • Private law firms
  • Professional or membership bodies e.g. the Law Society, COSLA, trade unions
  • Banks (including those owned by the UK government)

Other types of organisations

It isn't always so clear for other types of organisations:

  • Registered social landlords (RSLs, also known as housing associations) are subject to the FOI Act, but only for certain functions. They are, however, also fully covered by the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004. This means you have rights to ask for any environmental information they hold, but for other information, it must relate to specified functions. You can read more about how RSLs were designated under FOI.
  • Most charities and voluntary organisations are not subject to FOI law, but there are some important exceptions - such as local authority leisure, sports and cultural trusts, which have been designated under the FOI Act.
  • Utility companies, including electricity and gas companies are not subject to the FOI Act, but Scottish Water is a listed authority in Schedule 1 of the Act. So you can ask Scottish Water for any type of information that it holds.

If you are thinking about making a request, but not sure whether you have a legal right to ask, we recommend you first contact the organisation. If you encounter problems or need help, you are welcome to contact us.