Recreational, sporting, cultural and social bodies established and financed, wholly or in part, by local authorities are now subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. This means that anyone can submit a request for information to such bodies in the same manner as they already can to local authorities.
The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (Designation of Persons as Scottish Public Authorities) Order 2013 came into force on 1 April 2014 following a consultation undertaken by the Scottish Government.
The Order lists the criteria for the application of FOISA to bodies which are:
- established or created solely by one or more local authorities;
- whose functions include developing and/or delivering recreational, sporting, cultural or social facilities and activities on behalf of local authorities; and
- financed wholly or in part by local authorities in carrying out those functions.
Bodies satisfying these criteria include certain trusts established by local authorities. The purpose of listing criteria rather than naming specific public authorities is intended to provide flexibility and to avoid the need to designate each individual bodies on a case-by-case basis.
It is anticipated that any such bodies will have been making preparations prior to 1 April in order to be compliant with FOISA, including:
- implementing internal processes and procedures in relation to the handling of requests and requests for review (requests must be responded to within 20 working days of receipt);
- providing staff training on FOISA to both key staff involved in the handling of requests and general staff;
- adopting a publication scheme;
- and implementing a charging scheme.
The newly designated bodies will also need to comply with the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 ("EIRs"), which establish a separate and standalone regime for access to environmental information.