How we will handle your request
We shall respond to any request within 20 working days following the date on which your request was received in accordance with the Act.
We will respond saying either:
We have the information you have asked for and will provide you with a copy of it.
Or, we have the information but we cannot give it to you because we are exempt from doing so - in which case we will explain why.
Or, we are unable to confirm or deny if we have the information - in which case we will explain why.
The Act makes a number of provisions for extra time to be taken in responding to a request, for example:
where, after initial consideration of your request, a fee is requested.
where the public interest test applies, then the timescale is extended by a “reasonable period”. The FRC will, however, tell you within the 20-day period which exemption(s) it believes apply to the information requested, and give you its estimate of the date by which it expects to reach a decision regarding the application of this exemption.
The FRC may charge a fee for complying with a FOIA request for information in accordance with The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. Guidance on the application of these regulations is provided by the Department for Constitutional Affairs.
Any fee charged will be calculated by looking at the costs directly and reasonably incurred in locating the information you have asked for and giving it to you. You will then be sent a Fees Notice which you will have to pay within three months of your request – you will not receive information until you have paid the costs in the fees notice.
If the estimated cost of providing the information would be above the appropriate limit set by the government (currently £450) then we will not be under a duty to provide the information. However, we will inform you if the limit will be exceeded and we will try to let you know what can be provided within the limit. We will also consider whether it is reasonable to answer your request and charge an appropriate fee.
If the cost of providing the information is £450 or less, the FRC may charge for photocopying, printing and postage costs.
If you have requested information which the FRC believes is held by another public authority, it may be appropriate for you to re-apply to the public authority concerned. Alternatively, the FRC may transfer your request to another public authority. Before doing so, the FRC will check that the other public authority holds the information requested. If you wish to be notified before the FRC transfers your request to another public authority, you should state this in your application.
Consultation with third parties
The FRC may notify third parties if a request for information about them is made. The FRC may also need to consult third parties (including another public authority) in order to reach a decision on whether the requested information can be released. If you wish to be notified before the FRC consults a third party about your request, you should state this in your application.
There are a number of exemptions under the Act and we may not be able to give you the information you have asked for.
The Public Interest Test
Some of the exemptions in the Act require us to do a public interest test. This means that even if the information is exempt, we must consider if there is a greater public interest in releasing the information to you. If we decide the public interest is better served by keeping the information exempt then we will explain our reasons to you for doing so.
Below are some examples of exemptions that we think are most relevant to the kind of information we hold.
Absolute exemptions - the public interest test does not apply
Non-Absolute exemptions - public interest test applies
Information intended for future publication
Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs
Legal professional privilege