Freedom of Information (FOI)
Freedom of Information (FOI) – advice for Suppliers and Contractors
FOI applies to all information held by public bodies, and this extends to Advance Northumberland Limited because we are wholly owned by Northumberland County Council. This means the information we hold about your company, and the information you provide in the future could be subject to an FOI, as is any information that you hold on our behalf.
If I give you information on my products or services, will this be subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
Yes, but it does not mean it will automatically be released if requested, as an exemption may apply. We will seek your views before disclosure of information that might affect your rights or interests.
My Company holds information on behalf of Advance Northumberland, how am I affected?
If you hold information on our behalf, we would ask you to provide it quickly so that we can respond to a request within the statutory timescales, which is 20 working days.
What if I receive a request for information directly?
No one can apply to your direct. FOI does not apply to private organisations. If the request relates to Advance Northumberland, please refer them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I protect information by having a confidentiality clause in contracts, or by providing information in confidence?
When you provide information to us which you believe would prejudice your interest if released under the FOIA you should make us of this at the time it is provided. If you are completing a tender return, there is a specific document for you to confirm information that is to be treated as commercially sensitive. You must confirm the information that is to be considered confidential and the reasons for this. You should not assume however that the legal exemption for confidence will apply since there is no blanket exemption for commercial confidentiality. Each request will have to be examined on its own merits and the Act applied.
The following exemptions are likely to be relevant when we decide whether to disclose information under FOIA about contractors and partners:
Section 40 protects personal information, though a public interest test can apply to third party information in some circumstances.
Section 41 provides an absolute exemption where disclosure of the information will constitute an actionable breach of confidence.
Section 43 allows information to be withheld where it constitutes a trade secret or where disclosure is likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority). This is a qualified exemption subject to the public interest test.
For further information, contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.