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RSL Resources150pxlCommon questions - Registered Social Landlords

Which of our subsidiaries are covered by the designation order?

The Commissioner is not able to provide a definitive list of the organisations covered by the Scottish Ministers' designation order. This is because the terms of the Order mean that individual coverage will depend on a number of factors, including the corporate structure of a subsidiary and its parent RSL, the relationship that exists between them, and the functions and activities of the subsidiary.

While we anticipate that many RSL subsidiaries will fall within the scope of the definition, it will be up to individual RSLs and subsidiaries to satisfy themselves as to coverage. The Commissioner will only be able to consider individual circumstances in detail when investigating specific appeals.

We have, however, published information to assist organisations in making this assessment.

 

When meeting the duty to publish, should RSLs publish all the information held which falls under the classes of information or just that which relates to designated functions?

The legal requirement is for RSLs to publish information only where it relates to the functions specified in the designation Order. An RSL which publishes information on the functions in the Order - having taken due regard to the public interest considerations set out in section 23(3) of the FOI Act - will meet the publication duty under the Act.

RSLs might want to publish information over and above the statutory requirement. For example, an RSL may want to publish additional information where a minute or report contains information relating to both designated and non-designated functions, and the RSL has no concerns around the publication of the "non-designated" information. In such cases it would, of course, be free to do so.

However, to avoid confusion for service users and staff, it will be good practice for information which relates solely to "non-designated" functions to be clearly labelled. Our recommendation is either:

  • for this information to be listed in the Guide to Information under each class within a subsection titled "Additional information", with text making clear that the additional information is published over and above the publication scheme requirement; or
  • for the additional information not to be separately listed or described in the RSLs Guide to Information.

There's more information on meeting the FOI duty to publish here.

 

What should we do if we receive a request for information which does not relate to the functions covered by FOI or to the EIRs?

If a request is received for information which does not relate to the functions covered by FOI or to the EIRs there will be no statutory duty to respond to that request under FOI law. FOI rights will not apply to that information.

However, a requester who considers that the information does fall within such a function can appeal to the Commissioner. The Commissioner would then, as part of that process, determine whether or not the information sought falls within the functions.

As a result, if an RSL considers that FOI rights don't apply to the requested information, it is good practice to:

  • explain to the requester that not all of the information it holds is subject to the FOI Act or the EIRs
  • set out the reasons why (for example, the information might relate to the provision of services for owners and occupiers of houses or the management of non-social housing accommodation)
  • consider the duty to advise and assist (for example, is there information which is covered by the Order which might help the requester?)

It's also good practice to notify the requester of their right of review and right to appeal against the decision.

 

More

 Duty to Publish 150pxl  duty to publish
Duty to Respond150pxl  Duty to respond to requests 
 Duty to Advise150pxl  Duty to advise and assist
 Managing FOI  Managing FOI
RSL Resources150pxl

Resources for RSLs

    

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