Legislation and regulations

Find out more about regulations and legislation that relate to, or have an impact on, your archives and records management. These include the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, as well as the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 which are in force from 18 July 2015. Read more about re-use at Re-using public sector information.

The Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) operates within The National Archives and is responsible for publishing legislation on legislation.gov.uk and managing Crown copyright.

The access provisions of the Freedom of Information Act came fully into force in January 2005. The Act replaced the access provisions for UK public records set out in the Public Records Act 1958-67 and also governs access to information held by most public sector bodies.

Data protection law changed from May 2018 with the passing of the Data Protection Act 2018 and taking effect of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Information and resources can be found on the Information Commissioner’s website. There is special provision in the new laws for the archiving of personal data in the public interest.

The Freedom of Information Act gives rights of access to a wide range of information. However, rights of access to environmental information are provided by a separate statutory regime, the Environmental Information Regulations.

The Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts was appointed under Royal Warrant in 1869 to make enquiry as to the places where manuscripts and private papers of historical interest were located and to report on their contents.

There are a number of acts and statutory instruments that go some way towards safeguarding historical records, but in many cases the wording is open to interpretation. This section outlines the main acts, statutory instruments and Measures of the Church of England that have an impact on the care and custody of records.