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How the Business Information Service operates

Access to the Business Information Service

The IoD Business Information Service is a confidential service exclusive to IoD members. It is available to current UK and direct-paying overseas members of the Institute of Directors whose subscriptions are fully paid at the time of use.

Enquiries can also be placed with us by authorised representatives working on behalf of IoD members. In this instance, we require the IoD membership number of the relevant member, together with their written authorisation, before we can proceed with the enquiry.

Use of the Business Information Service is subject to these terms and conditions which may be changed by the IoD without further notice to you, and by using our services you agree to be bound by them.

Purpose of service

The Business Information Service aims to provide practical business information to members quickly and without charge or at a nominal charge. We are committed to responding to enquiries within 24 hours of the enquiry being placed with us. If in exceptional circumstances this is not possible, we will discuss this with enquirers.

Placing enquiries

Members can make use of the Business Information Service up to 25 times per calendar year with no more than one enquiry per day. Every day more than 100 members contact us for information, most of it urgent, and therefore we need to divide our time fairly between the IoD members who use the service in order to meet our commitment to responding by our stated deadline. Therefore we are able to spend up to 30 minutes per member per day on researching and processing each enquiry. When enquiries take longer than 30 minutes, it may be necessary for us to count them as multiple enquiries and deal with them over a period of two or more days, depending on their complexity; if a significant amount of information is provided from one of our subscription databases, we may also need to count this as more than one enquiry. We will always notify members of those instances. For large research projects we suggest that members employ an information brokerage to undertake the work for them. We can provide contact details for information brokerages on request.

If you are a consultant or professional advisor, we do not provide information for you to pass on directly to your clients.

Response time

We endeavour to respond to enquiries within 24 hours. If in exceptional circumstances this is not possible we will discuss this with enquirers.

If a member needs information to a shorter deadline and informs us when placing an enquiry, we will do our best to meet it, but this will depend on our workload and the nature of the information requested.

Scope & boundaries – type of research conducted

The research carried out by the Business Information Service is secondary (or desk) research – in other words it is research using existing published sources (whether in print or electronic form) that we have purchased or subscribed to. We do not conduct primary research, ie original research involving contacting businesses, organisations or individuals. Primary research is a lengthy process, and undertaking it would put the ability to meet our turnaround deadline beyond our control. Neither do we analyse or interpret the information provided. We are happy to supply on request contact details for businesses that offer primary research services.

IoD members work in all sectors of the economy and so our aim is to be a general business information resource ­–­ we strive to serve all our members as much as we can. In practice this means that the service does not specialise in information for or about any particular industry sector. While we may have certain resources such as a trade journal or market research report which focus on a given sector, we do not aim to be – or compete with – industry-specific or subject-specific collections. We will always try to direct enquiries that we are not able to cover to another appropriate source.

If you are a consultant or professional adviser, we do not provide information for you to pass on directly to your clients.

There are some types of information that we don't provide, and for which we recommend members use specialist providers. These include the following:

Legal information: In addition to the two legal advice services which are provided to IoD members, IoD's Legal Helpline and the Directors' Advisory Service, we hold sources which give practical information on the law as it affects businesses, such as employment law and company law. However, we are not a specialist legal library, and do not hold consolidated statute law or extensive sources for case reports.

Academic and historical sources: Our collection is focused on practical information for doing business today, and while it contains resources which might be of use to those engaged in studying, it is not our remit to support academic studies or to provide a historical archive of business information.

Copyright, licensing & contractual obligations

All photocopied, faxed, emailed and scanned material supplied by the Business Information Service is provided in accordance with copyright regulations and guidelines set by the Copyright Licensing Agency. All such material is intended solely for the use of the member making the enquiry. It cannot be copied, stored in any electronic format, reproduced (even for internal purposes), resold or distributed to a third party unless you have the permission of the copyright owner or of the Copyright Licensing Agency.

The IoD seeks to ensure that the information provided is accurate and up to date. However, the IoD accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information, nor for the consequences thereof.

Precedents & model documents

The IoD, its officers and employees do not accept any liability for any precedents or model documents, which are supplied for general information only. Precedents and model documents will need to be tailored to your specific requirements. The IoD strongly recommends that you seek advice from a solicitor when drafting a legal document. The Directors’ Advisory Service, which is available as part of your membership benefits, can review documents but cannot draft or redraft documents. Some of the advisers are prepared to take on privately fee-paying assignments for members. The IoD in no way recommends the use of the private services of its own advisers in preference to outside consultants, but it has no objection to the use of its advisers by members who prefer continuity. Alternatively, members may wish to use a 'Find a lawyer' facility, offered by Law Express, the provider of the IoD legal helpline. The IoD does not recommend particular firms. Members are advised to make themselves aware of the scale of fees payable, at the outset, for the private services of advisory or outside consultants.

Charges (where applied)

The research time and the vast majority of information supplied to members is provided free of charge.

When answering enquiries, staff in the Business Information Service search a number of online databases on the members' behalf. A charge is made for some of the searches in order to recover the direct costs of subscribing to and accessing these databases. These include:

  • Supply of company filings from Companies House
  • Credit evaluations on UK and overseas companies
  • Detailed financial information (where available) on overseas companies
  • Individual chapters or whole reports from Key Note, beyond initial free quota  
  • Data from all other market research reports
  • Fame reports beyond initial free quota

Members are always notified of any costs before work is undertaken. Where possible, an estimate of the likely costs of the search will be supplied before proceeding, but we cannot guarantee in all circumstances not to exceed the estimate given.

Some searches produce no results. We reserve the right to pass on the charges incurred in such a search to a member. We require pre-payment for all online searches and reserve the right, in certain circumstances, to decline to conduct online searches on demand and the right to limit the number of searches for any one member.

Use of data by members

All the online searches carried out for members are from external databases from commercial suppliers with whom the IoD has negotiated contracts. All information supplied by the Business Information Service is subject to the terms and conditions of those contracts. The IoD will not exceed contractual or other limitations and restrictions on the provision of information.

All data retrieved as a result of an online search is intended solely for the use of the member making the enquiry. It cannot be copied, sold or redistributed to third parties. The copyright and other intellectual property rights relating to any material passed on to the member remains with the database producers, and all rights are reserved. Members should take personal responsibility for the preservation of copyright in material supplied, including a correct citation of copyrighted material where appropriate.

The member is solely responsible for ensuring that their use of data complies with the Data Protection act 1998 and all superseding and related legislation and regulations regarding the use of personal data.

Our liability

We endeavour to ensure that all information supplied to members through the Business Information Service is correct. However, neither the IoD nor its suppliers or employees can accept responsibility for errors, accuracy or completeness of any information provided including but not limited to the results of online searches that may be carried out on behalf of members. We cannot accept responsibility for errors, accuracy or completeness of any information from any third-party website. The IoD will not be liable for any loss of actual or anticipated income or profits or for any special, indirect or consequential loss or damage of any kind howsoever arising and whether caused by negligence, breach of contract or otherwise, whether or not such loss or damage is foreseeable. All implied or statutory warranties and conditions are excluded to the maximum extent permitted by law.


To log an enquiry

020 7451 3100

Business information

Enquire online

(Members only)


Opening hours

9am-5pm, Monday-Friday, excluding UK public holidays