< The Management of Records

Code of Practice
The Management of Records

(Freedom of Information Act 2000, section 46)
Guidance to relevant authorities on
(1) The management of their records and
(2) The review and transfer of public records

The Lord Chancellor, having consulted the Information Commissioner and the appropriate Northern Ireland Minister, issues the following Code of Practice pursuant to section 46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Laid before Parliament on 16 July 2009 pursuant to section 46(6) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

  1. Aims of the Code
  2. Scope of the Code
  3. Interpretation
  4. Supplementary guidance

1    Aims of the Code

1.1   The aims of the Code are:

  • To set out the practices which relevant authorities9 should follow in relation to the creation, keeping, management and destruction of their records (Part 1 of the Code); and
  • To describe the arrangements which bodies responsible for public records10 should follow in reviewing public records and transferring them to The National Archives or to a place of deposit for public records, or to the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (Part 2 of the Code).

1.2   Part 1 of the Code provides a framework for relevant authorities to manage their records. It sets out recommended good practice for the organisational arrangements, decisions and processes required for effective records and information management.

1.3   Part 2 provides a framework for the review and transfer of public records that have been selected for permanent preservation at The National Archives11, a place of deposit for public records or the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. It sets out the process by which records due for transfer are assessed to determine whether the information they contain can be designated as open information or, if this is not possible, to identify the exemptions12 that apply and indicate for how long they should apply.

2   Scope of the Code

The Code applies to all records irrespective of the technology used to create and store them or the type of information they contain. It includes, therefore, not only paper files series and digital records management systems but also business and information systems (for example case management, finance and geographical information systems) and the contents of websites. The Code’s focus is on records and the systems that contain them but the principles and recommended practice can be applied also to other information held by an authority.

3   Interpretation

For the purposes of this Code, ‘records’ are defined as in the relevant British Standard13, namely ‘information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person, in pursuance of legal obligations or in the transaction of business’. Some specific terms which are not defined in the Act have been included in the Glossary at Annex A. Other words and expressions used in this Code have the same meaning as the same words and expressions used in the Act.

4   Supplementary guidance

More detailed guidance on both parts of the Code has been published separately. Standards and guidance which support the objectives of this Code most directly are listed at Annex B.

9       Relevant authorities is the collective term used in the Act for bodies that are public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act and bodies that are not subject to that Act but are subject to the Public Records Act 1958 or the Public Records Act (Northern Ireland) 1923.
10     Public records are the records of bodies that are subject to the Public Records 1958 or the Public Records Act (Northern Ireland) 1923. For the avoidance of doubt, the term ‘public records’ includes Welsh public records as defined by section 148 of the Government of Wales Act 2006.
11     The legal entity to which this provision applies is the Public Record Office. Since April 2003 the Public Record Office has functioned as part of The National Archives and is known by that name. For that reason the name ‘The National Archives’ is used in this Code.
12     In the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (the EIR), exemptions are called exceptions. For simplicity the term exemption is used throughout the Code and should be taken to apply also to exceptions in the EIR.
13     BS ISO 15489-1:2001 Information and documentation – Records management – Part 1: General.

< The Management of Records