Decisions Round-up: 30 March to 3 April 2015


This week there's more learning about requests involving the requester's personal data, plus an important learning point about authorities having to make sure they are going to disclose information before charging to provide it.


Key messages:

  • Information may be the requester's own personal data even if it mentions other people
    You can't access your own personal information under the FOI Act. A requester's own personal data is exempt from disclosure under FOI , but the authority should tell the requester how to make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act. This applies even if other people are also identifiable from that personal data, as in Decision 038/2015.


  • Don't issue a fees notice until you've considered whether the information should be provided
    Decision 040/2015 considers a case where the public authority issued a fees notice, and then, some two months after receiving payment, refused to disclose the information. A fees notice cannot be issued where information is exempt from disclosure. This should be considered before a fees notice is sent.  In this case, the Commissioner commented that the Council's handling of the request fell far short of that expected from a Scottish public authority.

Decisions issued:

  • Decision 038/2015 Mr I and the Scottish Prison Service (the SPS)
    Mr I asked the SPS for information about disciplinary and complaint-related matters. The SPS told Mr I that some information was available to him in the prison library, while other information was his personal data and therefore exempt from disclosure under the FOI Act. The SPS said that it would cost more than £600 to provide other information covered by the request.

    During our investigation the SPS reconsidered, finding that it would not cost more than £600 to provide the information covered by the request. We found the SPS had been wrong to claim this in the first place. We agreed that the SPS was entitled to withhold information which was Mr I's personal data, and accepted that he had reasonable access to information from the prison library.


  • Decision 040/2015 Mrs L and Glasgow City Council
    Mrs L asked for information about the resurfacing of a road. The Council issued a fees notice for this environmental information. Mrs L paid the fee, but the Council then told her that the information was excepted from disclosure under the EIRs. During our investigation, the Council refunded the fee and provided Mrs L with information that satisfied her request. Our decision criticises the Council for issuing a fees notice before determining whether to disclose the information.  

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