The Freedom of Information Act 2014
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 all corporate records created since 21st April 1998 by this University and its staff can be accessed by any individual. While there are exemptions which can be applied in certain circumstances to protect information from disclosure, in general corporate information will be accessible.
The University has many committees and sub-committees where minutes of meetings are recorded. The following advice has been prepared to help develop a consistent approach to minute taking and to provide some guidance to staff who record minutes.
Definition: Minutes may be defined as a written record of the business transacted at a meeting. They usually take the form of minutes of narration rather than minutes of resolution.
Good practice in minute taking includes the following:
-name of meeting
-kind of meeting
-place, day and date of meeting
- Names of those present:
-list those present
-list those “ in attendance”, i.e. those who are there but not as members
-list those who send apologies
- Agreement of minutes
- Matters arising
- Presentation of reports
- Items discussed
- Decisions taken
Chairman's signature: Following approval of minutes at a subsequent meeting they should be signed and dated by the Chairman. (All previous drafts should be destroyed).
Alteration of minutes should be hand written with a notation stating at whose request the alteration was made. This should be done prior to the chairman signing the minutes.
Date of next meeting.
When recording minutes the practice of naming members who attend/do not attend, report on matters arising, present reports, etc., should continue.
However, the following should be considered when items are being discussed:
- When recording an item, discussion should be recorded in a manner that gives a precise account of the proceedings of the meeting.
- It is advisable to record all the necessary information and no more; i.e. the relevant business considered, facts noted, the decision taken and its rationale.
- Individual contributions at a meeting should only be attributed when an individual expressly requests it and the meeting agrees that the contribution should form part of the minutes of the meeting.
- Minutes should be written so that they are complete, and in sufficient detail to enable a person who was not present at the meeting to fully understand what business was transacted.
- Initial drafts of minutes should not normally be retained.
- Minutes should be retained in accordance with good filing practice in a safe environment.
- Final versions of documents and reports considered at meetings should be retained with the minutes when it is necessary to have access to them in order to understand the minutes.
- Arrangements should be in place to allow the efficient transfer of the formal minutes to a new staff member or new secretary of the committee/Authority.
- Minutes, being a record of what was done, i.e. decided, should be written in the past tense.
All committee members should be advised:
- That they must obtain the approval of the meeting if they wish a particular contribution to be attributed to them.
- That access may be given to all minutes and associated documents under the Freedom of information Act 2014. Certain information is protected from disclosure under the various exemptions of the Act.