Freedom of Information (FOI)
Frequently Asked Questions
Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Frequently Asked Questions
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came fully into force on 1st January 2005. The aim of the Act is to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public sector bodies, giving better public understanding of how they carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do, and how they spend public money.
The public have 2 statutory rights:
- To be told whether the public body holds the information requested, and if so,
- To have that information communicated to them
This note is to provide basic guidance on the Freedom of Information Act and what do if you receive a request. A more detailed guidance note is available from the Secretariat.
What are the routes to access information?
There are 2 routes:
- From the University’s Publication Scheme By direct request to an individual, faculty, school, service area or the University in general.
What is a publication scheme?
A publication scheme is a document outlining the information a public authority publishes, or intends to publish. In this context, ‘publish’ means to make information available, routinely. These descriptions are called ‘classes of information’. The scheme is not a list of the actual publications, because this will change as new material is published or existing material revised. It is, however, the public authority’s commitment to make available the information described.
A publication scheme sets out the classes, or categories, of information published. It also makes clear how the information described can be accessed and whether or not charges will be made.
LJMU has adopted the model publication scheme developed for the Higher Education sector and is therefore committed to publishing the information it describes.
This model is designed for universities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The purpose of the model is to save institutions duplicating effort in producing individual schemes and to assist the public in accessing information from across the sector. However, to reflect the diversity in size and function of institution, a number of optional classes of information are included. As a result, models within the sector will vary slightly. Any optional classes relevant to us have been included in our scheme.
You can find the LJMU publication scheme on the University's website.
How should a direct request under the FOI Act be made?
- in writing (and this includes e-mails)
- it should state clearly what information is required
- and state the name and address of the applicant (an e-mail address constitutes a correspondence address)
The request does not have to mention the Act, and can be from anyone of any age, nationality or location. It is not necessary for an enquirer to tell us why they require the information.
If anyone makes a verbal enquiry (i.e. face-to-face or by telephone) please advise them to make their request in writing. The University has a form titled “Request for Information” available with the publication scheme on the external website. Copies of this form are held at each public reception area, together with a hard copy of the publication scheme, and a public commitment to this has been made on the University’s website.
What do I do when I receive a request?
- The public contact us every day asking for information and most of these requests are routine and predictable, e.g. for the Prospectus. You should continue to issue this information in the normal way. Decide if the information is already available on the University website. And direct the requester there. For all other requests, you must contact the Manager, Secretariat & Records Manager, who is the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Officer for the University.
What if it is unclear what information is being requested?
Requests for information must be clear enough to enable us to identify and locate the information requested. It is our responsibility as far as we can to provide assistance to the applicant to enable him or her to describe more clearly the information requested. If you need further information, you are not obliged to comply with the request until your receive this.
How long do I have to reply?
You have 20 working days to reply from the day you receive the request. This is a very short time to respond, and the clock starts ticking the day you receive the request.
Is there are a charge for providing the information?
The University is permitted to charge fees and the amount is regulated by Government. The intention of the fee is to cover the costs of the search (i.e. staff time) and to pay for copying and postage. Enquirers should not be charged for the provision of information we already provide free of charge, for any small amounts of documentation (i.e. less than 50 pages) or by giving the enquirer directions to material on the website. Any fee charged must be in accordance with Fees Regulations from the Department of Constitutional Affairs (DCA), and agreed with the Manager, Secretariat & Records Management. The timescale for complying with the request is put on hold until the fee is paid. The University has guidance notes on the fees regulations and can be found on the LJMU Publication Scheme pages.
Do we have to provide information in different formats?
The right of access is to information, not documents, but you should whenever possible, provide the information in the format requested by the enquirer. The Act does not require us to provide enquirers with specialist statistical information that the University does not normally produce.
Can we refuse a request?
The law permits certain exemptions. Any decision on whether requested information is exempt must be done in consultation with the Manager, Secretariat & Records Management and an appropriate member of the LJMU Management Group.
What if I receive repeated requests?
The law allows us to refuse multiple information requests that are made as part of a campaign. If you receive a number of enquiries of a similar nature you should not refuse to co-operate but should contact the Manager, Secretariat & Records Management
What about personal information?
If an individual wishes to see their own information, then this is a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act 1998. These requests should be referred to the Manager, Secretariat & Records Management.
If the information requested identifies an individual who is not the requester, then this may also covered by the Data Protection Act.
What happens if we do not comply with a request?
If the University declines to respond (or fails to reply fully) to an information request, the enquirer has the right of appeal to the University, and if still not satisfied, to make formal complaint to the office of Information Commissioner.
The Information Commissioner enforces and oversees the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI). It is a UK independent supervisory authority reporting directly to the UK Parliament.
If anyone makes complaint in writing to you about the nature and/or content of any response, you must forward this complaint to the Manager, Secretariat & Records Management.
The University has an Appeals and Complaints Procedure.
Liverpool John Moores University FOI Policy and Procedure
The University has a policy and procedure, and this is available from the Manager, Secretariat & Records Management, or on the website at: LJMU FOI Policy and Procedure
Further Guidance and Useful Links
0151 231 3116, email@example.com
The Office of the Information Commissioner:
The Ministry of Justice:
The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC):