Freedom of information and the private sector — the next chapter in transparency by the coalition government

In March 2014, justice minister Simon Hughes MP stated: ‘We do intend to extend freedom of information [FOI] further as soon as it will be practical. We intend to publish a revised code of practice to make sure that those private companies that carry out public functions have FOI requirements in their contracts, and go further than that, and we hope that will be in place by the end of this year.’

Press comments as a result have referred to ‘a radical extension of FOI’ to the private sector and guidelines so that more contracts include requirements to abide by FOI laws. Other commentators have even suggested that private businesses contracting to provide public services with public authorities should be directly subject to FOI.

It is not yet clear exactly what the government envisages but private businesses working with the public sector must be increasingly prepared for the growing impact of FOI on those relationships. We anticipate a move to routine publication of redacted forms of contract and further expect moves to deliver far greater transparency in relation to actual contract performance thereafter…

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