Freedom of information

Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) encourages public authorities to make as much information as possible available to the public proactively. It establishes a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.

Making a request

Under the Act, you are entitled to make a request for information held by the Supreme Court. You can request

  1. to be informed in writing by the Court whether it holds information of the description specified in your request, and
  2. if that is the case, to have that information communicated to you.

If you ask for environmental information, your request will be handled under the Environmental Regulations (EIRs). Environmental information includes things like carbon emissions or the environment's effect on human health.

If you would like to make a request, either under the Freedom of Information Act or the Environmental Regulations, please write to our FOI team.

Freedom of Information,
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom,
Parliament Square,
London,
SW1P 3BD

foi@supremecourt.uk

What you can expect

All FOI requests should be dealt with within 20 working days. The Act also provides for an appeal mechanism whereby you can request an internal review. If still required, you may still apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision as to whether we dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.

In accordance with section 12 of the Act, we are unable to comply with a request where we estimate that the work involved will exceed the 'appropriate limit' of £600 or 24 hours' staff time. We will, however, provide advice and assistance so that requests might be refined or limited to come within the cost limit.

Regulation six of the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate limit and Fees) Regulations 2004 sets out the activities that can be charged for in complying with any requests. These include the cost of photocopying, printing and postage. We will contact you to let you know the cost of dealing with your request before we action it and this will be payable in advance.

Every public authority subject to the FOI Act is required to adopt and maintain a publication scheme which follows the model scheme set out by the Information Commissioner. Details of the model publication scheme are available on the Information Commissioner's office website.

The Supreme Court publication scheme

A publication scheme is a commitment to provide information to the public. It explains what information is routinely made available, where and when that information is available and whether there will be a charge for supplying the information. We make a significant amount of information available under our scheme. In many cases, the information you are looking for will already be available and there will be no need for you to make a formal request under the FOI Act.

Guide to information held

What information is available? Available information is grouped under seven 'classes of information':

  1. who we are and what we do
  2. what we spend and how we spend it
  3. what are our priorities and how are we doing
  4. how we make decisions
  5. our policies and procedures
  6. lists and registers
  7. the service we offer.

Responsibility for the publication scheme

The Director of Corporate Services has overall responsibility for the Publication Scheme. The publication scheme is maintained by our Freedom of Information team.

Accessing court records

There is no right of access under the FOI Act to information contained in court records as Section 32 gives an absolute exemption from disclosure of such information. This exemption applies regardless of the content of the information.

Access to the Supreme Court's court records is dealt with in Rule 39 of the Supreme Court Rules. Rule 39(3) provides that all documents held by the Court may be inspected by the press or members of the public on application to the Registrar.

The rules provide a procedure for such applications by completing Form Two and a fee is payable. There are additional charges for photocopies of documents. The Registrar may refuse an application for reasons of commercial confidentiality, national security or in the public interest.

How does the publication scheme work? Will I be charged for the information?

Information listed in the publication scheme is available on our website and in print. You can access information:

On our website

When the information is available on the Supreme Court website a link will be provided. There is no charge for information available on the website, but the user would have to meet any charges by their internet service provider, or the cost of personal printing.

Printing from our website

For those without internet access, a single print on the website would be available by post. Requests for multiple print outs or for archived copies of documents which are no longer available on the web will attract a charge for the cost of retrieval, photocopying, postage, etc. We will contact you to let you know the cost of dealing with your request before we action it, and this would be payable in advance.

By email

You can email foi@supremecourt.uk including the words publication scheme in the subject heading. There is no charge for information which is provided electronically.

In person at the Court

Information is free of charge to view at the Court, but we will charge for photocopying for multiple prints.

How up-to-date is the information?

Most of the information included in our scheme will be current. However, for certain classes of information, it may be necessary to publish the information retrospectively.

How long is information kept?

We manage our information in accordance with our records retention and disposal schedule in order to ensure that we operate sound records management procedures. This means that some information will not be available indefinitely through the publication scheme. We remain committed to providing the public with as much information as is practically possible. It is also important that the information we provide is relevant and up-to-date. H3 Is the information available in other languages? Most of the information we provide is currently only available in English. Part of our website is available in Welsh, as are the Court's forms.

Comments about the publication scheme

If you have any comments about our publication scheme, or if you think we have not supplied information in accordance with our scheme, then you should write to:

Sam Clark
Director of Corporate Services
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
Parliament Square
London
SW1P 3DB

sam.clark@supremecourt.uk