New FoIA Exemption

Following the Queen’s Speech, an Intellectual Property Bill has been introduced in the House of Lords.  Clause 19 inserts a new exemption into the FoIA (Section 22A).  The exemption is for continuing programmes of research intended for future publication.  Subsection 1(a) of Clause 19 provides that information is exempt from a Section 1(1)(b) FoIA disclosure requirement if it relates to information obtained in the course of, or derived from, a programme of continuing research that is intended for future publication.  Subsection (1)(b) of the new Clause, however, provides that the information will be exempt only if disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice a matter listed in that subsection.  The exemption will not be an absolute exemption. It will be subject to the public interest balance test.  Public authorities will not be required to confirm or deny that they hold Section 22A information if, or to the extent that, compliance would, or would be likely to prejudice, any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1)(b).  The Government does not consider that the new exemption raises any issues of compatibility under ECHR Article 10.