Code of Practice on Access to Government Information

The 1996 Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, approved and issued by the Council of Ministers, was amended in 2016 taking effect from 1 February 2016.

The Code of Practice on Access to Government Information 2016 (the 2016 Code) is a non-statutory access regime for information held by government departments and bodies.

Requests can be made under the 2016 Code for information held by any government department or body included in the 2016 Code with the exception of information created after 11 October 2011 which is held by public authorities listed in schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2015.

Persons not resident in the Island cannot make requests under FOI but can make requests for ANY information irrespective of date of creation under the Code.

The 2016 Code "represents the Isle of Man Government’s view that citizens must have adequate access to information to promote the public interest but in a way that is balanced with the requirement to maintain privacy of individuals and effective Government." There are, therefore, exceptions to the right of access which are set out in Part II to the 2016 Code.

There is no commitment that pre-existing documents, as distinct from information, will be made available in response to requests.

The Code does not require Departments to acquire information they do not possess, to provide information which is already published, to provide material which the Government did not consider to be reliable information, or to provide information which is provided as part of an existing charged service other than through that service.

The Code does commit Government Departments:

  1. to publish the facts and analysis of the facts which the Government considers relevant and important in framing major policy proposals and decisions; such information will normally be made available when policies and decisions are announced;
  2. to publish or otherwise make available, as soon as practicable after the Code becomes operational, explanatory material on Departments’ dealings with the public (including such rules, procedures, internal guidance to officials and similar administrative manuals as will assist better understanding of departmental action in dealing with the public) except where publication would prejudice any matter which should properly be kept confidential under Part II of the Code;
  3. to give reasons for administrative decisions to those affected;
  4. to make available on request:
    1. full information about how public services are run, how much they cost, who is in charge, and what complaints and redress procedures are available; and
    2. full information about what services are being provided, what targets are set, what standards of service are expected and the results achieved
  5. to release, in response to specific requests, information relating to their policies, actions and decisions and other matters related to their areas of responsibility.

A record should be kept of all initial refusals and review decisions in respect of requests made under the Code which should include the exemption(s) cited by the Department in respect of each refusal.