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FOI events and training

FOI events and training

The Commissioner's role includes promoting good practice by Scottish public authorities and providing the public with information about their rights.

Details of our forthcoming training events will be listed below. You can also sign up to our Open Update email newsletter or follow @FOIScotland on Twitter to make sure you're the first to know about future conferences, workshops and training opportunities.


FOI Practitioners' Conference 2023

Date: 23 August 2023
Format: In-person
Location: University of Dundee, Dalhousie Building, Old Hawkhill, Dundee, DD1 5EN

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Practitioners' Conference, hosted by the University of Dundee's Centre for FOI in collaboration with the Scottish Information Commissioner, is specifically aimed at those working in FOI for a Scottish public authority.

The conference aim to provide practical advice and guidance, opportunities for discussion and networking, and details on the latest FOI updates and developments.

Book your place (register by 10 August 2023)  


9:30   Registration 

10:00 - 10:10   Introduction from the Chair, Dr Sean Whittaker 

10:10 - 10:35   Best Practice and team work in the FOI Space 

Sarah Laws, The London Borough of Camden

10:45 - 11:15   'What's The Story' - Journalism and Freedom of Information 

11:15 - 11:30   Refreshments 

11:30 -13:00   Practical Seminar Sessions I

  • An introduction to Freedom of Information

Dr Sean Whittaker - University of Dundee

  • Bringing FOI  to hard-to-reach groups

Dr Samantha Morgan-Williams - University College Cork and Paul Mutch - Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

  • Progress on Reforming the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Carole Ewart - Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland

13:00 - 14:15   Lunch 

14:15 - 15:45   Practical Seminar Session II

  • The FOI escape room


  • Access to Environmental Information

Professor Colin Reid and Dr Sean Whittaker - Division of Law, University of Dundee

  • The Balancing Act: The Public Interest, what is it?

Fiona Killen - Harper Macleod LLP and Ross McEwen - Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

15:50 - 16:15   FOI - Key concepts that have endured 

Margaret Keyse, Head of Enforcement, Scottish Information Commissioner

16:15 - 16:30   FOI - The Future

Daren Fitzhenry, Scottish Information Commissioner

16:30 - 16:35   Closing comments 

Updates will  be available via the Scottish Information Commissioner's Open Update newsletter.

Find our more about the Centre for Freedom of Information.


  • An Introduction to Freedom of Information

Are you new to FOI, or simply want to brush up on the basics? Dr Sean Whittaker will introduce the FOI Act and walk you through the core principles of FOI, highlighting the duties and tasks required of public authorities in relation to FOI.

  • Bringing FOI to hard to reach groups

Given the increasing importance of FOI in our lives for obtaining accurate information, what are the barriers to people using their rights to request information, and what can a public authority do to help all groups utilise their 'right to know'?

This seminar will seek to explore these barriers and consider what the public authorities can do to encourage greater participation from hard to reach groups.

  • Progress on Reforming the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Last year there was two separate consultations launched with the aim of gathering views on whether and how FOI law in Scotland could be reformed and improved. Come along to this session to explore with the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland about the views gathered in response to Katy Clark MSP’s Private Member’s Bill. Topics will include:

  • The extension of FOI to all bodies delivering public services
  • Reform of the FOI duty for public authorities to publish information
  • Review of the FOI Act’s exemptions
  • The FOI Escape Room

In this interactive session, led by the eCase team, you and your team will battle the FOI Clock, and other teams, to produce the best possible response to an FOI request.

At each stage, you and your team will make decisions on how you'll proceed, based on the information given and your knowledge of FOISA. The decisions you make will determine whether you stay under or go over the 20 days, whether you end up with a highly satisfied requester.

During the session, you'll have the opportunity to look at and discuss not only what makes the most citizen-centric approach, but also examine your organisational and administrative blockers.

  • Access to Environmental Information

Access to environmental information is often viewed as the “lesser used” information regime in Scotland; relevant only to public authorities which primarily focus on environmental matters. Yet in practice any public authority can receive a valid information request under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, and information officers can be caught off-guard when they receive a request for environmental information but deal with it under the more general rules.

In this interactive seminar Professor Colin Reid and Dr Sean Whittaker will introduce the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and the broader context in which they operate. The seminar will then work through example requests to consider when a request falls under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 or the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004, before concluding with a reflective exercise that considers the impact of access to environmental information on public authorities.

  • The Balancing Act: The Public Interest, what is it?

If an exemption applies to information requested, it is most likely also subject to the public interest test, however what is this test and what factors can and cannot be taken into account when balancing the public interest? This practical seminar, will walk through the legal tests; how to evidence that the public interest has been considered, how it is balanced in practice and discuss examples of where the public interest has perhaps over turned the application of an exemption.