RE: Clerks hand taken notes of meetings - retention and access under FOI by Ibrahim - written 22/02/2010 19:23:59
Hi Tina

Thanks for your e mail. I set out my response below.

I am not aware of the decision you mention. Please see the ICO website ( What I do know is that FOI applies to information held by or on behalf of the authority. It is not dependent on ownership of the information. Therefore if the notes are held by or on behalf of a public authority FOI applies.

Secondly FOI does not require information to be created or held. If it was destroyed before the request was received then that is the end of the matter.

With regard to access to local authority minutes, FOI still applies to them (subject to the usual Part 2 exemptions) The Local Government also gives access although there are some exceptions which can be applied.

I hope this helps. I am afraid your query might be more complicated than this facility allows me to answer. I am happy to quote you for legal advice. If this interests you please use the Contact page.

There is also our FOI helpline service:

Tina wrote (11/02/2010 11:52:29):


This comes in two parts both related.

Firstly, I understand that there may have been an Information Commissioners decision about who owned the hand written notes of a meeting that were taken by the clerk present who then used them to produce a set of minutes / notes of the meeting.  Can you help with when etc.

I am right in thinking that he said something along the lines that the hand written notes were the ownership of the clerk and could not be requested under Freedome of Information. and these should be destroyed at the earliest opportunity? Can you confirm that this is the ownership of the clerk personally or if the owenership of the clerk is as a corporate employee and therfore a council owned document?  For example the the meeting is monthly but the Council's protocol for document retention of 'notes of meetings' is 12 months, but this does not differntiate between hand written notes by the clerk of informal / semi minute type notes of a meeting. Can the clerk destroy their own hand written notes as soon as they are approved by the next meeting (or Chair of meeting) regardless of any corporate rule?

The second bit

Knowles on Local Authority Meetings (para 8.4.3) states that the notes do not fall within the documents that must be nade available for inspection (not minutes or background papers) and should be destroyed as soon as the relevant minutes have been approved and signed. 

Knowles refers to local authority meetings under the Local Government Act, The questions that now I would like clarified is what about local strategic meetings (which can be a mixture of other public bodies and third sector, businesses) for which the council is the accountable body and we have the pleasure of clerking the meetings but none of the meetings come under the LG Act.  Could the hand written notes be demanded, and what about papers that they want to keep restricted / protected?