12th Annual Freedom of Information Conference, May 2016


12th & 13th May 2016 - Central London, UK


Workshops  (Day 2 -Friday, 13th May 2016)


On the second day of the 12th Annual Freedom of Information Conference, Friday, 13th May 2016, delegates choose two Workshops that explore topics in-depth and work through real-life scenarios. Each Workshop covers an in-depth analysis of a specific issue of freedom of information, and will give the delegates opportunities to ask questions and discover how issues are dealt with at other organisations. 

The aim of each Workshop is to provide delegates with an opportunity to work through practical scenarios with respect to a particular area of freedom of information compliance. Each of the Workshops is run by an expert and considers a practical and realistic case study. There will be considerable opportunity to put questions to the Workshop leader during the session and and to discuss issues with other delegates.

Each Workshop is accredited by the Law Society with 3 CPD Points. Attend two workshops to earn 6 CPD point. 


Timings for the Workshops Day

Morning Workshops
(9.30am - 12.45pm)
Afternoon Workshops
(1.45pm - 5.00pm) 
A. Confidentiality: What Does it Mean, and When Should You Disclose Confidential Information? D. Managing the Burden - Using Cost, Vexatiousness and Other Provisions to Manage the Increasing Flow of FOI Requests
B. Third Party Information: Handling Complex Requests E. FOI, EIR or Same Difference? Understanding the Application of the Environmental Information Regulations
C. FOI Following the FOI Commission: Legal and Practical Impacts F. When is data personal enough to be protected from disclosure?



Morning Workshops - 9.30 am - 12.45 pm


A. Confidentiality: What Does it Mean, and When Should You Disclose Confidential Information?

Damien Welfare - Cornerstone Barristers

Whether information is confidential, and whether confidential information should on occasion be disclosed, can be a tricky issue. The common law definition is open to argument, statutory regimes vary, and whether it applies to commercial agreements can depend on the type of information involved. A change in circumstances can also remove the protection of confidentiality. This Workshop looks at how the differences in the definition, scope and available exemptions can affect the position in practice, in relation to:

  • environmental information, which can be declared confidential by both parties to a transaction, but only if it is commercial or industrial
  • FOI information, which can only be confidential if imparted to the public authority on those terms, but is not restricted as to subject matter
  • confidential personal data of third parties in subject access requests, and FOI/EIR requests
  • information held confidentially under various statutory regimes, and requests under the FOI, EIR and DPA

B. Third Party Information: Handling Complex Requests

Jackie Gray - Bond Dickinson

Public authorities hold a large amount of information about their staff, customers, suppliers, citizens and those with whom they do business, which will often be the subject of FOI and EIR requests. This session looks at the impact of FOI and EIR on third party information and provides practical guidance and tips on handling complex third party information requests, including how to develop useful protocols. The Workshop also looks at the latest position on exemptions and exceptions relevant to some common types of request including:
  • third party procurement information
  • information held by contractors on behalf of a public authority under contracts
  • planning information, including requests for developer viability information
  • personal information about staff (and staff of contractors and suppliers)


C. FOI Following the FOI Commission: Legal and Practical Impacts

Liz Fitzsimons - Eversheds

Ten years on from the commencement of FOIA 2000, the Independent FOI Commission has now reported on its FOI review, following feedback on its public consultation exercise on the public interest balance between transparency, accountability and the protection of sensitive information. With around 30,000 responses submitted to the call for evidence, the Commission’s report and its recommendations will be of keen interest to a wide range of groups and individuals. This Workshop considers legal and practical impacts and implications for public authorities and those working with them. Key topics include:

  • what the Commission decided to leave untouched;
  • recommended changes to statutory timescales;
  • increased transparency and proactive publication recommendations;
  • recommended changes to sections 35 and 36 FOIA;
  • suggested changes to the government’s power of veto;
  • proposed clarification to the disclosure obligations in respect of information format; and
  • recommended changes to the FOIA appeal process.



Afternoon Workshops - 1.45 pm - 5.00 pm


D. Managing the Burden - Using Cost, Vexatiousness and Other Provisions to Manage the Increasing Flow of FOI Requests

Paul Gibbons, FOI Man

Public authorities continue to receive increasing numbers of freedom of information requests more than ten years after the right of access was introduced. The Independent FOI Commission's inquiry is not the first attempt by central government to address complaints from public bodies about the burden these requests present. This Workshop explores existing mechanisms under the legislation to refuse the more unreasonable requests that public authorities receive, and also looks at the proposals made by the FOI Commission in relation to the cost of FOI. Topics include:

  • how to correctly apply the fees regulations to refuse requests that will cost more than the appropriate limit
  • the application of the vexatious requests provision in s.14 of the Act, and how it can be used successfully to turn down manifestly unreasonable requests, including an analysis of recent cases and guidance
  • dealing with expensive and vexatious requests for environmental information under the Environmental Information Regulations
  • other key ways to manage the flow of requests
  • an exploration of the proposals made by the FOI Commission and the government and how they are likely to affect handling of FOI requests in practice


E. FOI, EIR or Same Difference? Understanding the Application of the Environmental Information Regulations (Workshop no longer available)

Anna Condliffe - Transport for London

Whilst there are many similarities between the FOI and EIR regimes, there are also some significant differences and these can raise tricky issues for public authorities handling requests for environmental and non-environmental information. This Workshop looks at the key differences between the regimes and their practical impact on the way in which public authorities deal with requests, including:

  • how to assess what information should be treated under which regime
  • how to deal with requests which fall under both regimes
  • key exceptions and how to use them
  • recent significant cases and their effect on how we handle requests


F. When is data personal enough to be protected from disclosure?

Rachael Annear - Freshfields

Individuals can seek other people’s personal data under FOIA and the EIRs, and they can ask for their own personal data under the DPA. This Workshop explores the practical difficulties that arise when dealing with these types of requests, as well as a discussion of key recent developments, and provides in-depth look at the section 40 exemption including:

  • what is ‘personal’ when it comes to personal data in the context of disclosure under FOI
  • how to approach FOI issues in a project that will use a large amount of personal data
  • managing FOI requests for personal data
  • the data protection principles, conditions for processing and exemptions that are relevant to FOI requests
  • the impact of the European Data Protection Regulation




3 Easy Ways to book

  • The online booking form
  • By This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • By telephone at +44 (0) 207 014 3399


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This event is sponsored by


eCase Software

Trinogy Systems




With thanks to



Bond Dickinson sponsors this year's FOI Conference














Karen Tolson
Bank of England

“I enjoyed the diversity of the presentations. Well balanced and managed.”
Roger Petty
Land Registry

“All of the presentations were excellent and considered fascinating areas”
Sam Potter
University of Nottingham

“A must for all working in FOI”
Gloria Akinyemi
King’s College Hospital

“Very useful and informative as usual”
Mark Stevens
Civil Aviation Authority

“Excellent mix of subjects and presentations.”
Kellene Green

"A very interesting and varied day with a good range of speakers. As a first time attendee it has certainly whet my appetite for future conferences."
Karen Harris
Information Commissioners Office

"Another extremely well put together and varied content event"
Nicky Ross

"Good mix of sessions. Today has been very useful and informative"
Anna Canning

"A must for all FOI practitioners to support their professional learning."
Mark Scallan
Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust

“Very good”
Jenesha Simpson
Attorney General’s Chambers (Cayman Islands)

“Thank you for a very worthwhile conference”
Mark Fletcher
Department for Business Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

"Good to have a broad subject range. Very useful"
Dominic Mallinder
Northwest London CSU

“The breadth and knowledge of the speakers was impressive”
Audrey Turnbull

“A very useful insight into current thinking with helpful examples.”
Judith Downing
Hampshire County Council


“Very informative and enlightening”
Louise Smith
Financial Ombudsman Service

“I liked the contributions from the practitioners.”
Virginia Hawkins
National Assembly for Wales

“An extremely well organised and informative event!”
James Newman
Transport for London

“An excellent, well-balanced, thought-provoking conference, which really helps to keep up to date”
Denise Francis
Science & Technologies Facilities Council

"All speakers provided helpful insights into FOIA pitfalls"
Simon Cosgrove
Maclay Murray & Spens

“The topics were useful and the speakers were good. This conference could not be improved.”
Kayi Emadi


“Very useful and informative day”
Caroline Lynch
Royal Berkshire NHS FT


“Very enjoyable and helpful. The speakers were obviously experts in the subjects.”
Emma Gedge
Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service


"Very useful practical tips"
Amy Ogborne
Bath & NE Somerset Council


“I liked the range of issues covered and the use of examples”
Leigh Hopkins
Health Protection Agency


“Excellent speakers – really useful”
Wendy Raymond
Medical Research Council