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Taking requests in context

Vicki Bowles welcomes the Upper Tribunal’s directions on the assessment of vexatious 
or manifestly unreasonable freedom of information requests

15 March 2013

Section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) provides that a public authority does not have to deal with a request it considers to be “vexatious”. The term vexatious is not further defined in the statute, and practitioners have had to rely on Information Commissioner guidance and First Tier Tribunal decisions. At the end of January, the Upper Tribunal published decisions in relation to three separate appeals under both the Act and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), giving binding guidance on how to determine whether a request is vexatious under FOI, or manifestly unreasonable under EIR.

EIR and FOI both deal with public access to information, and in some ways are very similar in their operation. The wording in relation to requests that are considered “disproportionate” is different – section 14(1) FOI refers to “vexatious” and regulation 12(4)(b) refers to “manifestly unreasonable” ...

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