Friday, December 22, 2006

Public Interest Test in the Freedom of Information Act

Public interest test is a striking feature in the exemptions of Freedom of Information legislation. It is meaningful of analyzing the forms of public interest test, deciding where the public interest lies or does not included, and the application of public interest test. To start with, public interest test can be divided into two forms, viz. negative and positive one. The positive form can further separated into two limbs, including a special public interest override and a general public interest override. Next, a disclosure of exemption information may be in the public interest where relates to matters of public debate, public participation in political debate, accountability for public funds, public safety and justice to an individual. Then, several factors should not be taken into account by a public authority in determining where the public interest is included. It involves the possible embarrassment of public bodies or other officials, the possible loss of confidence in public bodies, the seniority of persons involved, and the risk of an applicant misinterpreting the information. Finally, there are two steps for the application of the public interest test.

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