Failure to respond to FOI Requests: extent, impact and remedy

Special Report, 07 August 2014

This special report, laid before the Scottish Parliament, highlights the problem of when authorities fail to respond to FOI requests on time and how they can tackle the issue.

“Every failure to respond is a denial of someone’s statutory right to information. Every failure to respond is a failure by a Scottish public authority to meet its statutory duty.” Rosemary Agnew, Scottish Information Commissioner.

In the last three years, an average of 26% of appeals to the Commissioner have been about failures to respond. Fortunately the problem is not typical of all authorities – most FOI requests are answered on time. Just five authorities accounted for 50% of failures to respond last year.

It is important that we get this right:

“People ask for information when they need it. FOI law is designed to get them the information they are entitled to promptly. When authorities don’t respond, they are effectively denying an individual’s rights. It’s not only stressful and damaging to requesters; it damages public confidence in authorities and in the FOI regime.” Rosemary Agnew.

The key to resolving failures to respond lies with public authorities – read the report to find out more.

Failure to Respond to FOI Requests: extent, impact and remedy (PDF - 2.85MB)

More information

See our News release

The Commissioner's decisions, including failure to respond cases, can be viewed online via our Decisions Database. You can search for failure to respond cases by entering FOISA sections 10 and 21, or EIRs regulations 5(2) and 16.


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