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Covid-19 FOI UpdateNew changes to emergency FOI provisions now in force

28 May 2020

The Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act came into force yesterday (27 May 2020). As a result, the temporary changes to freedom of information (FOI) law made earlier this year by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 have been altered.

Scottish public authorities are now once again required to respond to requests for information and for review in no more than 20 working days. In addition, the normal duty under FOI law to reply promptly remains in place.

The amended legislation retains the ability of the Commissioner to decide, in cases which come to him on appeal, that an authority did not fail to comply with their FOI duties by failing to respond to a request within 20 working days. Such decisions are subject to certain criteria which now also include if the authority was acting under the 60-working-day timescale while it was in force.

Updated information and guidance now available

The Commissioner's Covid-19 and FOI Information Hub has been updated to reflect the latest changes. This includes:

  • Full details of the FOI provisions contained in the emergency legislation
  • Advice for those wishing to make a request for information during the pandemic
  • Comprehensive information for authorities on the impact of the latest changes
  • Amended guidance on how the Commissioner will determine the effects of the coronavirus on an authority's ability to respond to requests
  • Updated answers to frequently asked questions from authorities and the public

We hope you find the Infohub useful but if you have any other queries please contact us.

Commissioner's office premises closure extended

Meanwhile, the temporary closure of the premises of the office of the Scottish Information Commissioner as a result of coronavirus Covid-19 has been extended to 26 June at the current time. We will continue to review the premises closure in light of government guidance and will post updates as these become available.

For detail on changes to our services or to contact us with urgent queries, please see the contact page on our website.

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