Wednesday, October 05, 2011

‘FOI Appeal Routes’ Seminar, University of Dundee

Wednesday 19 October 2011
Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

While the UK and Scottish Freedom of Information (FOI) laws are very similar, there are some key differences between them – difference which can sometimes have a material impact for the requester or authority involved in the request. One such difference concerns the appeal mechanisms that are in place following a decision of each Commissioner. While appeals under the Scottish Act are made directly to the courts, requesters and authorities in England and Wales can appeal to an ‘Information Rights’ Tribunal. In 2009/10, there were 161 appeals to the Tribunal against decisions by the (UK) Information Commissioner, 62% of which were brought by requesters. In Scotland, during 2010, there were two appeals heard by the courts in relation to Scottish Information Commissioner decisions.

But what impact does this have in practice? Do the different systems lead to different outcomes? Which model best serves the resolution of FOI disputes? Is there anything we would change?

This seminar will consider and explore the appeal mechanisms under both FOI regimes.


Professor John Angel, Principal Judge of the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights)
The FOI Appeal Process in England and Wales

Christine O’Neill, Partner, Brodies LLP
Reflections on the Scottish model

Rob Edwards, environment correspondent, Sunday Herald
FOI Appeals: the requester’s perspective

A buffet lunch is served at 1pm, and the seminar will run from 2pm to 4pm.

For more information, or to book a place, visit:

Speaker Biographies:

Professor John Angel
John Angel was the first President of the Information Tribunal. He set up the General Regulatory Chamber in the First-tier Tribunal (FTT) and was its acting President during that time. He is currently a deputy judge in the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal and Principal Judge of the Information Rights jurisdiction in the FTT.

John is a retired solicitor who was formerly the Head of Online Legal Services at the global law firm Clifford Chance and before that he practised technology law at Theodore Goddard. He has written, contributed to and edited a number of books and papers on subjects such as computer, telecommunications and electronic business law and has previously held a number of (non legal) management positions in the IT industry. John is also a visiting Professor at the Institute of Computer & Communication Law, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary, University of London.

Christine O’Neill
Christine O'Neill is a partner in the public law and regulatory team at Brodies LLP. She advises a range of clients on information law issues including FOI, data protection and data security and acted for the Scottish Information Commissioner in a number of appeals to the Court of Session. A solicitor advocate, she appears regularly in courts and in public inquiries for public authorities and commercial clients.

Rob Edwards
Rob Edwards has been a freelance journalist specialising in environmental issues for more than 30 years. He has written for New Statesman, The Observer, The Mail, The Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday, The Scotsman, The Glasgow Herald, the Edinburgh Evening News and many others. Since 1999 he has been the environment editor of the Sunday Herald and a correspondent for New Scientist and The Guardian. He has co-authored three books about nuclear power, and won a series of journalist awards. Since 2005, he has made 242 requests under freedom of information legislation in Scotland and the UK. He lives in Edinburgh, and likes muckraking.

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