The ICO exists to empower you through information.

You can rely on section 31(1)(h) to withhold information whose disclosure could harm any civil proceedings. These proceedings could be brought by, or on behalf of, a public authority. They could also come out of an investigation conducted for any of the purposes specified in subsection section 31(2). To qualify, the proceedings must arise out of investigations carried out under the prerogative powers of the Crown or powers set out in law.

Subsection 31(1)(i) is very similar in structure to section 31(1)(h), but it only covers harm in one specific area: an inquiry held under the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Inquiries (Scotland) Act 1976.

Confidential sources

Section 30 largely concerns criminal investigations. However, section 30(2) states that information will be covered if it is (or was):

  • held for the purposes of a civil investigation carried out for one of the purposes set out in section 31(2);
  • and it relates to the use of confidential sources.

If you are the authority that is conducting the proceedings (or on whose behalf the proceedings are being conducted) and the information relates to confidential sources, you may need to rely on section 30 instead. However, if the proceedings are not being conducted by you, or on your behalf, you can still rely on section 31.

For more information see our guidance on section 30 investigations and proceedings.