Key Issue 6
Key Issue 6
Charging for Information – Now and in Future
This chapter provides an overview of freedom of information (FOI) as it is practiced in Scotland, with particular emphasis on the issue of charging for information being requested. In Scotland, FOI laws and regulations which mandate up-front administrative fees or prohibitive charges for information can deter requests or exclude those with no capacity to pay. The fee-charging structure under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) is strongly regulated and reasonably generous to the applicant. This chapter considers the approach used to charge for environmental information under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs). It also discusses issues such as whether public authorities are entitled to charge, whether an authority has informed the public of its charging regime, or whether the charge is reasonable or excessive. Finally, it assesses the future of charging under FOISA, paying special attention to ‘deterrence’ charging, the likelihood that the cost of responding to a request for information would breach the upper limit, and the capacity to aggregate requests.
Keywords: freedom of information, Scotland, administrative fees, prohibitive charges, Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, environmental information, Environmental Information Regulations, public authorities, deterrence charging, request for information
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