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Advice for contractors

This applies to all information held by public bodies. It also applies to specifically designated private companies that perform public functions and, in a limited capacity to private companies that contract to public bodies. The legislation gives anyone anywhere in the world the legal right to request and receive a copy of recorded information held by, or on behalf of, a public authority. The emphasis is always on disclosure of the information rather than withholding it.

All of the information that Wiltshire council holds about your company is covered by Freedom of Information (FOI), as is any information that you hold on our behalf.

If a contractor is employed to undertake a service on our behalf the information they produce in relation to that service is subject to FOI legislation. The responsibility for compliance with the legislation remains with the public authority.

If Wiltshire council receives a request for information that is held by a contractor, the contractor must assist the council and provide them with the information within 10 days of the council requesting it from them.

A contractor or other agency employed to undertake services on our behalf has no obligation to respond to a FOI request received by them if FOI does not apply to their organisation. If the contractor receives a request for the information they manage on our behalf they must either inform the applicant to direct their request to Wiltshire council or transfer the request to us. Contractors should not in any case disclose information held on our behalf without our explicit agreement.

If Wiltshire council receives a request for information held about any of its contractors all such information will be considered for release under the FOI Act. That does not mean it will automatically be released if it is requested as one of the exemptions may apply. Wherever possible we will seek the contractor's views before making a decision on disclosure of information that might affect their rights or interests. Although the contractor's representations will be taken into account the law makes the council alone responsible for making the final decision regarding disclosure.

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FAQs

Yes, but that does not mean it will automatically be released if it is requested, as an exemption of the FOI Act may apply. We will usually seek your views before making a decision on disclosure of information that might affect your rights or interests

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If we get a request for information that includes information you hold on our behalf, we will ask you to provide it quickly so that we can comply with FOI. This is to give us time to consider the information for exemptions and to prepare the information for release.

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You have no obligations to respond to such a request if FOI does not apply to your organisation. If you receive a request that relates to information you hold on behalf of Wiltshire council you should not in any case disclose it without our explicit agreement.

To be helpful to the requester, if the information requested relates to Wiltshire council, you should advise that the request should be submitted to Wiltshire council or transfer the request direct to us.

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FOI provides for two types of exemption; absolute and qualified. Where information is covered by an absolute exemption, we may refuse to release the information and, in some cases, can refuse to confirm or deny whether we hold the information.

Where qualified exemptions apply, we have to undertake a public interest test to decide whether it is in the public interest to disclose or withhold it. The public interest in withholding the information must outweigh the public interest in releasing it.

The Information Commissioner has produced some guidance on the exemptions that can be applied under Freedom of Information legislation.

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Confidentiality clauses are discouraged under the FOI unless there are genuine commercial and/or legal reasons why the information should be treated as confidential.

Information provided in confidence is only exempt if its disclosure would give rise to an actionable breach of confidence. This is a narrow legal exemption, which only applies in limited circumstances and you should not assume that this exemption will apply just because you think information is confidential.

If you consider that information that you provide to Wiltshire council is confidential, you should notify us of this, identify the information and provide reasons why you consider the information to be confidential under the FOI.

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When considering requests we will, wherever possible, consult you about information that may affect your rights or interests unless we are already certain that we must or must not disclose it. This consultation will help us to decide if an exemption applies and what the considerations are in applying a public interest test about information disclosure.

The law makes us alone responsible for making the final decision regarding disclosure.

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Information that was commercially sensitive during the tendering process may no longer be sensitive once contracts have been signed, therefore Wiltshire council will consult with you to determine its disclosure. Wiltshire council is responsible for the final decision in relation to disclosure. Information relating to current tenders must also be considered for release.

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Last updated: 30 November 2016 | Last reviewed: 30 November 2016