The Scottish Information Commissioner - It's Public Knowledge
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Fees

What can be charged for under the fees regulations?

The fees regulations allow an authority to charge for "projected costs", "whether direct or indirect, which a Scottish public authority reasonably estimates that it is likely to incur in locating, retrieving and providing such information". Costs which might be charged include estimates of the staff time to collect information from the organisation's archive, the cost of postage to deliver the information to the requester or the cost of photocopying in order to provide it. An authority cannot, however, charge for the time and resources used to determine whether the authority actually holds the information e.g., through searches of catalogues and records holdings. It also cannot charge for any costs incurred in deciding whether the information can be released.

An example: An authority receives a request for a copy of a consultation report. The authority decides to remove the names of members of the public who were consulted. The authority cannot charge for the staff time taken to decide which information must be redacted, but it could charge for the estimated staff time to physically blank out the appropriate parts of the document once that decision was made.

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If an applicant sends in a request or requests for information for separate time periods in the same email/letter do I have treat each request as a separate request?

If you receive separate requests for information or a number of questions relating to different information from the same person recorded in the same letter/email you should consider them as separate in terms of the fees regulations. Likewise, where an authority receives a request (or a number of requests) for information that specifies different time periods, each question relating to each time period should be considered as a separate request. The Act allows this. The applicant could have sent separate letters/emails or even separate letters in the same envelope. The fact that they are recorded in the same letter/email should not change how the authority deals with them. In this instance, the authority will need to issue individual fees notices.

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Are there cases where an authority can aggregate costs?

There are certain circumstances when an authority can aggregate costs. The fees regulations state that an authority can aggregate the cost of responding to a section 1 request where an authority receives two or more requests from different persons which cover the same subject matter or which significantly overlap. In such cases, where the estimated aggregated costs of complying with the requests exceed the prescribed limit of ?600, the authority is not required to comply with each individual request providing it makes the information available to the public at large. 

For more advice on fees see the Section 61 Code, and the Commissioner's  briefing.

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