The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives the public the right to access recorded information held by public bodies. It’s applied to us since November 2011.
Anyone can make a freedom of information request, including organisations. You don’t have to be a UK citizen or live in the UK.
This means you can ask us for any information you think we may hold in a recorded form. We’ll then tell you if we have it and, if we do, give you a copy – unless there’s an exemption. The Information Commissioner’s Office website describes various exemptions that could apply.
We’ve always been open about how we work - and we already publish a lot of information about our service on our website. Our publication scheme provides a guide to the information that's available without the need to make a specific written request.
Making a freedom of information request:
What should I do before making a freedom of information request?
Before you make a freedom of information request, please check our website to see if it has what you need. If you want information about a specific case you have with us, ask the person handling it for you.
What can I ask for?
You can ask for any information we might hold. You can ask a general question or request specific documents. But to help us provide what you’re looking for, please be as specific as possible.
You can also request information about other people under the Freedom of Information Act. However, if it would reveal personal information about them, we may not be able to provide it.
Do you have to provide what I've asked for?
In general, when we receive a request for information, we'll confirm whether we have that information. If we do, we'll pass the information on to the person who asked for it.
But we do hold some information which might not be suitable to give out to the public. There are some reasons why we might be exempt from releasing information – as well as from confirming whether or not we hold certain information – and these are set out in the legislation.
We also might not be able to answer your question if:
- it means we need to create new information
- we have to give an opinion or judgement which isn’t already recorded
- it’s likely to cost us more than £450 or involve over 18 hours of work to find and provide you with the information
Can I see information you hold about me?
If you want to see personal information that we hold about you or information about your case, let the person looking into your complaint know what you want.
Individuals can't request information about themselves under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 – these requests are covered by data protection laws. Depending on what you need, you might need to make a right of access request.
Is there a charge?
No. We don’t charge for making a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Who should I contact to make a freedom of information request?
If you’d like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act, email our information rights team at [email protected]
Please note, in light of the government guidance on the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak we are currently unable to receive post. Find out more about how our service is being impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.
You’ll also need to include your full name and an email or postal address for us to respond to.
We can’t accept requests over the phone because legislation says your request must be in writing.
How long will it take?
Sometimes, we’ll need more information before we can start dealing with your request. If so, we’ll let you know. Otherwise, we’ll reply as soon as we can, or within 20 working days after we’ve received your request. If we need more time, or if we can’t provide you with a copy of the information, we’ll explain why.
What if I'm unhappy with your response?
If you’re not satisfied with our response, contact our information rights team as soon as possible – and within two months from the date of our response.
Email our information rights team at: [email protected]
We’ll get back to you as soon we can – and always within 20 working days.
If you’re still unhappy after we’ve reviewed our response, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office. Find out how to contact them on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
Where can I find information about how you've handled the requests you’ve received?
The Financial Ombudsman Service has been subject to the Freedom of Information Act since November 2011. Our publication scheme provides a guide to the information that's available without the need to make a specific written request.
We also publish statistics that provide details of our performance handling requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. This information is updated on a quarterly basis following best practice outlined in the Cabinet Office’s FOI Code of Practice.