Freedom of Information (FOI) Acts 1997 - 2003, give 3 legal rights to those seeking access to information held by public bodies covered by the Act
  • the right of access to official records created after 21 April 1998 which are held by Government Departments or other public bodies subject to the Act;
  • the right to have personal details on official records corrected or updated where such information is incomplete, incorrect or misleading;
  • and the right to be given reasons for decisions taken by public bodies that affect the requester.
FOI gives legal rights to obtain access to records held by public bodies. There is generally no time limit in the case of personal information about the requester. In other cases the right of access is to records created after the commencement of the Act on 21 April 1998 (although access may be given to records created before this date where they are required to understand records created after this date). Requests for information under Section 7 of the Freedom of Information Acts 1997 - 2003 must be made in writing.

As stated above FOI also gives rights to have incomplete, incorrect or misleading personal information held by the public body corrected (Section 17) and to obtain the reasons for an act of the public body affecting the individual making the request (Section 18).