Exemption codes

Click the type of request below to view relevant exemption codes.

Sometimes information may be withheld for a variety of different reasons, known as 'exemptions'. This section contains the exemption codes for Freedom of Information (FOI), Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), Subject Access Requests (SAR).

s12 – Fees limit

This applies when the retrieval of the requested information exceeds fees limit

s14 (2) – Repeated Requests

Applies if the request has been made by the same (or substantially similar) individual previously within 60 days of the first.

s21 – Reasonably accessible elsewhere

This applies when the information can be easily obtained elsewhere, e.g. if available on line. (absolute and class-based)

s22 – Future publication

Applies if the information is intended for future publication. Please note this must have a publication date even if this is an estimate. (qualified and class -based)

S22A – Future publication (Research)

Applies if the information is obtained during, or derived from , a programme of research and there is an intention to publish a report of the research (qualified and class-based)

s23 – National security – Supplied by

Applies if the authority holds information directly or indirectly supplied by National Security Bodies (absolute and class-based)

s24 - National Security

Applies if the information requested is required for the purpose of safeguarding national security (qualified and prejudice-based)

s26 - Defence

Applies if the information would prejudice the defence of the British Islands or of any colony or the capability, effectiveness or security of any relevant force. (qualified and prejudice-based)

s27 – International Relations

Applies if the disclosure would prejudice international relations (qualified administration of justice. (qualified and prejudice-based)and prejudice-based.)

s28 - Relations within the UK

Applies if disclosure would prejudice relations between the UK administrations and any other such administrations. within the UK (qualified)

s29 – Economy

Applies if the disclosure would likely prejudice the economic interests of the UK (qualified and prejudice-based)

s30 – Investigations and proceedings

Applies if the information was at any time held for the purposes of any investigation relating which the authority has the duty to conduct with a view to charge or ascertain if a person should be charged with an offence (qualified and class-based)

s31 – Law Enforcement

Applies if the release of the information would likely prejudice the prevention and detection of crime, apprehension or prosecution of offenders or the administration of justice. (qualified and prejudice-based)

s32 – Court records

Applies if the information his held only by virtue of being contained in court records. (absolute and class-based)

s33 – Audit

Applies to any authority with Audit Functions (qualified)

s34 - PP

Applies if the information is required for ther purpose of avoiding an infringement of the privileges of either House of Parliament. (absolute and class-based)

s35 - Gov policy

Applies if the information is held for the formulation of government policy and ministerial communications (qualified and class-based)

s36 (2a) – Public affairs

Applies if the release of the information would prejudice effective conduct public affairs – (qualified and prejudice-based)

s36 (2b) – Public affairs – Free and frank

Applies if releasing the information would prejudice the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views.

(qualified and prejudice-based)

s37 – Royal Family

Information is exempt if it relates to communications with Her Majesty, the Royal Family or concerning honours (qualified and classed-based)

s38 – H&S

Information is exempt if it would endanger the physical or mental health of any individual or endanger their safety. (qualified and prejudice-based)

s39 – Enviro Info

Environmental Information is accessed through EIR, this exemption is used for the transfer of the request to that act.

s40 (1) – Requester personal data

Applies if the requester is asking for their own personal data. A S40(5) refusal notice should be issued. (absolute and class-based)

s40 (2) – 3rd party personal data

Applies if the information would release personal data of a 3rd party

(qualified and class-based)

s41 - Provided in confidence


Applies only where an actionable breach of confidence would occur should the information be disclosed.

(absolute and class-based)

s42 - Legal Professional Privilege

Applies if the disclosure would include legal advise offered to the authority. (qualified and class -based)

s43 (1) - Trade Secrets

Applies in the limited circumstances that the information requested is a trade secret (absolute and class-based)

s43 (2) -  Commercial Interests

Applies if the release of the information would hinder a person’s ability to successfully trade in a commercial environment.  (qualified and class based)

s44 - Prohibitions

Applies if the disclosure is prohibited by enactment, compatible with any community obligation or would constitute punishment as a contempt of court. (absolute and Class-based)

Page updated: 27/04/2021 Page updated by: Information Management Service

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