Public Record Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Public Record, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Public Record?

(n). The recorded matters regarding the functioning of any authority or body accountable to the public, the subject or contents of which are open to the public for verification and information as per the rights conferred on them, are termed as public records. Example: Minutes of the generals meeting of a corporation is not a public record

History and Meaning of Public Record

Public record refers to recorded information, documents, and other types of data that pertain to the operations and functions of government or any organization that serves a public purpose, and which are open to public scrutiny. Such records include information about public policy decisions, the allocation of public resources, public service activities, and other related topics. Public records can also include personal information, such as births and deaths, marriages, property records, and criminal records.

The concept of public records dates back to ancient times and is rooted in the idea that citizens have the right to know how their government is functioning. In the United States, public records are governed by state and federal laws, such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and various state open records laws.

Examples of Public Record

  1. Minutes of city council meetings
  2. Police arrest records
  3. Property deeds and tax records
  4. Environmental impact statements
  5. Government agency budgets

Legal Terms Similar to Public Record

  1. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) - a U.S. federal law that provides public access to certain government records
  2. Open Meetings Act - state laws that require government meetings to be open to the public
  3. Sunshine Laws - laws that mandate transparency in government activities and records.