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Data Protection and FOI/EIR requests – coming out of lockdown

Following the ICO's call for councils to make plans for returning to pre-covid levels of FOI work, Damien Welfare, Estelle Dehon, Isabella Buono and Rowan Clapp look ahead to the time when the regulatory environment returns to normal, and requesters are likely to expect their outstanding requests to be answered quickly.

This webinar is designed for local authorities, or other public bodies, which may face a backlog of subject access or FOI/EIR requests, as the lockdown begins to ease.

Since April, the Information Commissioner has been taking an 'empathetic and pragmatic' approach to enforcement; although individuals' information rights have remained in place. But now the Commissioner's Office have announced on their FOI Blog that, while they have maintained that approach, they "also want to see public authorities putting clear plans in place to get back on track with their freedom of information work". They have also published a toolkit to help authorities to assess their performance.

The panel of specialist barristers respond to questions such as:

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  • What exemptions/exceptions may apply to a given type of case, and what are their main features?
  • How should we handle the duty to advise and assist, coming out of lockdown?
  • How much scope might there be to handle some requests as 'Business as Usual', to ease the FOI/EIR backlog?
  • How should we approach searches in response to requests, with COVID-related restrictions in place? Or with some staff still working from home?
  • The ICO advised that we should record our FOI decision-making, so that information was available after the emergency. What is now required?
  • How should we approach presenting the information to be disclosed?

Please click here to download a copy of the slides used in this webinar.

Recording: You will note there is an issue with the sound around the 55 minute mark - please click HERE for a note on that section of the video.

About the speakers

Paul Campbell

Damien Welfare

Damien specialises in two areas: information law; and local government law, together with powers and decision-making generally in the public sector.

He has advised many local authorities and public bodies, and previously worked in local government for nearly twenty years.

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ZACK SIMONS 2715

Estelle Dehon

A versatile public law lawyer with a broad practice, Estelle is recognised as a leading junior in environment and planning law (with particular expertise in climate change and net zero). The other main area of her work is data protection and access to information. She also practices in election law and human rights law. Estelle is a member of the Attorney General's B Panel and of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's B Panel of counsel.

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isabella buono

Isabella Buono

Isabella became a member of Cornerstone Barristers in October 2019, after completing pupillage under the supervision of Emma Dring, Philip Coppel QC and Estelle Dehon.

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Rowann Clapp

Rowan Clapp

Rowan joined Cornerstone Barristers as a tenant in October 2019. He is developing a broad practice across all areas of Chambers' work, including Public Law & Judicial Review, Planning & Environmental Law, Housing Law, Information Law, Licensing and Commercial & Regulatory Law.

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