Make a Freedom of Information (FOI) request

The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 provide a general right of access to recorded information held by us.

This legal right of access includes all types of “recorded” information we hold, from any date. This may include computer documents, handwritten notes, plans, videos and tape recordings and photographs.

How to ask for information

  • How do you know what information we hold, and what you have the right to see?

    We have a Guide to Information [PDF] so you can easily find out what information we hold. It sets out:

    • What information we publish or intend to publish
    • How we make the information available
    • Whether you have to pay for it.

    We will also consider and respond to specific requests for information that is not included in the publication scheme.

    Some information is “exempt” from the right of access – that is, we do not have to give it to you if you ask for it.

    This includes information about, for example, law enforcement, national security and defence, and commercial interests.

    In some cases, we have to give you the information you have asked for only if this is in the public interest.

    People entrust sensitive personal information and details about cases to us. So the law says we may not normally supply information given to us without the consent of the person who supplied it.

    Where the law forbids us from passing on information, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act does not affect this.

  • Asking for information

    Most recorded information about legal aid and SLAB that you are likely to want is available on our website – or you can ask us for a copy.

    So if you want information from us, check our publication scheme to see if it is available first.

    If the information you want is not available through the publication scheme, you can ask us for it. You must do so in writing, or in another way that we can use for further reference.

    EMAIL: You can submit a request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act by email to

    POST: You can also write to our Data Protection Officer at Thistle House, 91 Haymarket Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5HE if you would prefer to submit your request by post.

    Several documents and policies relating to Freedom of Information are available to assist you with your request.

    You should make it clear exactly what information you need. If you are uncertain what to ask for, you can contact us to ask for help in putting together your request.

    An individual or an organisation can make the request, and you do not have live in Scotland. You do not have to quote the Act or explain why you are asking for the information. It will help us, however, if you mark your letter “Freedom of Information”.

  • Can you request environmental information?

    Environmental information is governed by separate regulations, known as the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs).

    Any FOISA request for environmental information will be refused under section 39(2) of FOISA, but we will respond to such requests under the Environmental Information Regulations.

    There may be charges for this information.

    See our leaflet Environmental Information Regulations for more information.

  • How long does it take to get a reply?

    You will receive a reply as soon as possible and, in any event, within one month.

  • How much will it cost?

    If it will cost us less than £100 to respond to your request, we will not charge you anything.

    •  However, if the cost of staff time and other resources needed to put together the information is likely to be between £100 and £600, we will normally charge you up to a maximum of £50. If so, before we do the work we will tell you what we estimate you will have to pay, and you can then decide whether to go ahead with the request.
    • If the work is likely to cost us more than £600, we can refuse to give you the information. If we agree to give it to you, we may charge you £50 plus the full cost of the work done after the initial £600 limit is reached.

    You will have to pay us any estimated charge before we send you the information. If getting the information costs less than we estimated, we will give you back the difference.

    If we ask you to pay, we are not obliged to send you the information within 20 days of receiving your request. We can add on the number of days between when we ask you to pay and when we receive the money from you.

  • What if you are unhappy with the reply?

    You can ask us to reconsider our decision if you are unhappy with the way we have dealt with your request – for example, if we refused to give you the information, or did not reply to you within 20 days, or asked you to pay a fee that you feel is unreasonable.

    If you ask us to review our decision, you must do this in writing or another form that can be kept for future use.

    You should ask for the review no more than 40 working days after we responded to your request or sent you a fees notice (or, if we did not reply, the end of the period for responding).

    We will reconsider our decision and tell you the outcome within 20 working days of receiving your request.

    If, after we have reconsidered our decision, you are still not satisfied, you may ask the Scottish Information Commissioner to review it.

    You must write to the Commissioner with your complaint no more than six months after you received the review decision from us.

    If we do not tell you the outcome of your request for a review, you should write within six months of the date by which we should have replied to you.

    The Scottish Information Commissioner can allow you to appeal after the six month time limit if he considers it appropriate to do so.

    The Commissioner will only deal with an application if:

    • You have already asked us to reconsider our decision, and
    • You are not satisfied with our response, or have not received one and the 20-day limit has passed.

    The Commissioner’s contact details are:
    The Scottish Information Commissioner
    Kinburn Castle
    Doubledykes Road
    St Andrews
    KY16 9DS
    Tel: 01334 464610
    Fax: 01334 464611

  • Who enforces the Act?

    The Scottish Information Commissioner promotes and enforces the Act. The Commissioner is independent of any other body with legal powers to ensure the public’s right of freedom to information is upheld.

    You can read more about the Information Commissioner and your rights under the Freedom of Information Act in a booklet “YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW: a guide to freedom of information law in Scotland”.

    This is available from the Commissioner’s office, or on their website.