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Decisions Round-up: 8 to 12 September 2014

 

 

We published three decisions between 8 and 12 September - details, links and learning points below.

Key messages:

  • Making requests simply to prolong correspondence may be vexatious
    If you keep asking for information about matters which have already been discussed in detail, the public authority may be entitled to refuse to reply to your requests. Requests for information which simply seek to prolong correspondence may be vexatious - and under FOI, authorities don't have to comply with vexatious requests. In Decision 188/2014, we accepted that a request was vexatious after taking into account the huge volume of previous correspondence between the requester and the public authority on a single issue.

 

  • The clock only starts ticking when your request is received
    In Decision 189/2014, the requester tried to fax a request for review to the public authority, but because of a fault with the fax machine, it was not received. The authority provided an alternative number, and received the review request a couple of days later. The requester believed that the authority was late in responding, but we found that it was just in time, given the later date that the review request was actually received.

 

  • Remember to keep notes of your searches
    Requesters frequently appeal to us where they don't think the authority has found all the information covered by their request. In such cases, we will always ask authorities for details of the searches they carried out, so it's good practice to keep notes of the records searched, who carried out the searches, what keywords they used, etc. In Decision 191/2014, the authority was able to explain why it was sure it had provided all the information it held.

 

Decisions issued:

 

  • Decision 188/2014 Mr McLean and Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body
    Mr McLean asked the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (the SPCB) for information to support a particular statement contained within a research paper. The SPCB refused to comply with the request, considering it to be vexatious. We agreed with the approach taken by the SPCB.

 

  • Decision 189/2014 Mr G and the Scottish Ministers
    Mr G complained that the Ministers had failed to reply to his request and request for review within the 20 working days allowed in each case. We found that the Ministers had failed to reply in time to his request, but that they had met the deadline for replying to the request for review.

 

  •  Decision 191/2014 Ms Alison Connelly and City of Edinburgh Council
    Ms Connelly asked for information about a potential site purchase. The Council initially withheld information, but provided it once the sale had completed. Ms Connelly believed that the Council should hold more information than the single document she had received, but the Council was able to explain why this was not the case, and to show that there was no more information covered by her request.

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