Decisions Round-up: 2 to 6 December 2013

We published four deceisions this week  


Key messages:


  • Remember that FOI rights only apply to recorded information held by an authority
    When requesting information, remember that the FOI Act only applies to information actually held by public authorities. In Decision 267/2013, the requester was of the view that the authority did hold the information, but, following an investigation, we accepted that it didn’t.     


  • If dissatisfied with the response you receive from an authority, make sure you seek a review
    As a requester, if you are dissatisfied with the response you have received from the authority, it is important that you use your rights to request a review and, if necessary, follow this up with an appeal to the Commissioner. If you don’t do this, but instead make the same request in the future, the authority may be entitled to refuse the request on the basis that it is repeated (Decision 268/2013).


  • FOI is not the way to access your personal information
    In Decision 269/2013, the requester asked for information about a complaint he had made. Although exempt from disclosure under FOI, the requester was entitled to access the information under data protection rules.


  • Remember your duty to provide advice and assistance to requesters
    As demonstrated in Decision 270/2013, where authorities refuse to comply with a request under section 12 (excessive cost), they have a duty to advise requesters how they might bring their request within the cost limit.  This can often lead to a satisfactory outcome, without an appeal to the Commissioner. 


Decisions issued:


  • Decision 267/2013 – Mr Jonathan Flynn and Perth and Kinross Council
    Mr Flynn asked for information about a court order. We found that the Council had correctly notified Mr Flynn that it did not hold the information.


  • Decision 268/2013 – Mr H A Cook and Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland
    Mr Cook asked the SCSWIS when two employees had received their Regulation of Care awards. The SCSWIS refused to comply on the basis that it was a repeat of a request Mr Cook had previously made. We found in this case that the SCSWIC had been correct to conclude that the request was repeated.


  • Decision 269/2013 – David Wilson and the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
    Mr Wilson asked for information about a complaint he had raised with the SPSO. The SPSO refused to disclose the information on the basis that its founding legislation (the SPSO Act 2002) prohibited it from disclosing the information under FOI legislation.  Mr Wilson made a separate request under the Data Protection Act for his own personal data.  While the SPSO was prohibited from disclosing it under FOI legislation, it could (and did) disclose Mr Wilson’s personal data under the Data Protection Act.         

  • Decision 270/2013 – Stephen Magee and Glasgow City Council
    During our investigation, the Council came to the view that complying with Mr Magee’s request would exceed the £600 upper cost limit under the FOI Act. We agreed, but also found that, because this matter had not been raised until the investigation, the Council had failed to provide Mr Magee with reasonable advice and assistance about how he could narrow his request and bring it under the £600 threshold.     


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