WANT ANSWERS TO AWKWARD QUESTIONS? READ THIS INDISPENSABLE GUIDE FOR PRACTITIONERS IN THE FIELD OF INFORMATION RIGHTS
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
If you're professionally involved in requesting information from officialdom, or handling such requests, this is your must-have reference book to the Freedom of Information Act and other freedom of information legislation.
Since the previous edition was published in 2007, there have been numerous important decisions from the courts and also from the Information Tribunal on freedom of information law. These developments are reflected in the text, which means that if you specialize in this area, this book will keep you up to date.
The author, Philip Coppel QC, has expressed the hope that his book will assist in resolving the complexities of the Freedom of Information Act while revealing its subtleties. Certainly, the word ‘complexities’ is more than appropriate when contemplating this mind-bendingly complicated area of law.
Within its almost 1,500 pages, this erudite and logically organized work of reference deals with the full range of issues pertaining to information rights. In particular, the practical aspects of making requests for information are dealt with: which body to approach…how much time may be involved in dealing with the request …the duty to advise and assist…the transferring of requests…the matter of fees (yes, you have to pay to ask)…the matter of vexatious requests…and of course, much more.
If you are a practitioner, then you'll infer that this is a practitioner's book and the leading work in this field. That being so, you may well probably take the ‘complexities’ of this area of law for granted! Your lay clients and colleagues, however, may be amazed that over half the book, thirteen chapters of it, are devoted to ‘exemptions’, including the notions of “prejudice” and “the public interest”.
Against the principles stated in the text, each exemption is analyzed, all court judgments and tribunal decisions dealing with the exemption are considered and all available references are cited in the footnotes. Whether you're preparing a case, or tasked with responding to a request, you will find ample research here to help you make sure that no exemption can ever get past you.
Research resources are copious, with appendices that include comparative tables and a table of the FOIA's parliamentary history, as well as an annotated copy of the FOI Act itself, together with related legislation. You'll also appreciate the discussion of similar legislation in five comparative jurisdictions, from the USA to New Zealand. Finally, the wealth of web references to all cases offers ready access to primary material.
Yes, in a free society we have information rights; we have the right to ask awkward questions. Or do we? As this very large volume reveals, it's jolly hard to wrench adequate answers from the grasping tentacles of reluctant officialdom.
Good thing this book tells you exactly how to do it.