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Freedom of Information Act 2000

Section 32: Court records, etc

117.This exempts, as a class, information contained in specified records. The obligation under section 1(1)(a) to confirm or deny that the requested information is held does not arise in relation to such information. This provision confers absolute exemption for the purposes of section 2.

118.This section exempts information which is held by a public authority solely by virtue of the fact that it is contained in documents:

  • filed with, or placed in the custody of, a court, or

  • served upon, or by, the public authority for the purposes of such proceedings, or

  • which a court has created for the purpose of such proceedings (for example, bench memoranda).

119.Subsection (2) of this section extends the exemption to information recorded or obtained by a public authority for the purposes of its functions relating to statutory inquiries (including those to which the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Act 1921 applies) and to arbitrations. In either case, evidence could be given to the inquiry or arbitration by third parties and the inquiry could create documents of its own. A public authority could find itself holding this information either because it was a party or because inquiry papers were held by it.

120.Subsection (4) contains a definition of “court” which is the same as that in section 19 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981, thereby bringing in tribunals and other bodies exercising the judicial powers of the State. This section also applies to the judicial functions of coroners and documents relating to any particular inquest or post-mortem examination.

121.This section does not apply to information which a public authority holds otherwise than in the documents specified, even though the information may relate to, and be deployed in connection with, particular proceedings.

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