Manifestly unreasonable requests

Guidance on applying regulation 10(4)(b) of the EIRs

Regulation 10(4)(b) of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs) allows a Scottish public authority to refuse to disclose environmental information if the request is manifestly unreasonable.

This is very similar, but not identical, to the vexatious provision in section 14 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). Read the Commissioner's separate guidance on vexatious or repeated requests.

The exception in regulation 10(4)(b) is subject to the public interest test in regulation 10(1) of the EIRs. This means that, even if the exception applies, the information should still be disclosed if the public interest in making the information available is outweighed by the public interest in maintaining the exception.

As with all of the exceptions in the EIRs, the exception can be relied on regardless of the age of the information.

This exception aims to protect the credibility and effectiveness of the EIRs. Most requesters exercise their rights to information responsibly, but there are rare occasions when this is not the case. This exception provides a way of dealing with the few cases that are unreasonable, would impose a significant burden on the financial and human resources of public authorities or are otherwise manifestly unreasonable because of their impact on the authority.

Public authorities should not use this exception lightly. They should consider all the relevant circumstances in order to reach a balanced conclusion as to whether a request is manifestly unreasonable. Requesters must not be unjustly denied the opportunity to make a genuine information request. Requests may be inconvenient, and meeting them may at times stretch an authority's resources, but these factors are not on their own sufficient to deem a request manifestly unreasonable.

Download the briefing:

Regulation 10(4)(b): Manifestly unreasonable requests

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