Intellectual Property Act 2014 section 22A: Freedom of information exemptions for Research

In relation to what is generally referred to as ‘Pre-publication research’please note that the Intellectual Property Act 2014 (which is enacted but not yet in force – coming into force on 15 July 2014), by section 22A, has created a novel exemption from the Freedom of Information Act 2000, for pre-publication research. The exemption obtained in the course of, or derived from a ‘programme of research’ will amount to exempted information if the following conditions are met:

(a) the programme is continuing, with a view to publication by a public authority (cf. Universities are public authorities pursuant to Schedule 1 Part IV clause 53 of the 2000 Act), of a report of the Research…and

(b) disclosure of the information under the 2000 Act before the date of publication would or be likely to prejudice: (i) the programme (ii) the interests of any individual participating in the programme (iii) the interests of the Authority (cf. the University) which holds the information, or (iv) the interests of the Authority mentioned in paragraph (a) if it is a different authority from that which holds the information.

Commentators have remarked that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining exemption must be balanced against and outweigh the public interest in disclosing the information, and that each case would be decided on its own merits. The writer knows of no provisions referring to this balancing exercise, however it is generally recognised that the new exemption would allow Universities as Researchers to consider and validate their research work before putting it into the public domain.

Section 22A(2) is a new provision whereby the Authority (cf. the University) would not be obliged to ‘confirm or deny’ whether they hold exempt information, if by doing so this prejudices the above factors listed (i) to (iv) above.

When the writer comes across further elucidating commentary on the new section 22A Research exemption they will be posted further in this blog.

The link to the new Intellectual Property Act 2014 (adding the new section 22A to the Freedom of Information Act 2000) can be found at:

Click to access ukpga_20140018_en.pdf

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