Vexatious and repetitious requests

The Freedom of Information Act gives rights of access to official information, known as the 'right to know'.

The act makes clear that, subject to certain safeguards, there is a public interest in allowing access to such information and, in particular, in the release of information as to the reasons for decisions made by councils like us.

However, while placing a general duty on public authorities to give access to official information, the act also provides an exception to that duty for requests which are vexatious or repetitious. These provisions are necessary to prevent abuse of the right to know.

The Information Commissioner considers that the provision for vexatious and repeated requests is important and his approach will be influenced by the desirability of keeping compliance costs to a minimum and to avoiding damage to the credibility or reputation of the Freedom of Information framework.

While giving maximum support to individuals genuinely seeking to exercise the right to know, the Information Commissioner’s general approach will be sympathetic towards authorities where a request, which may be the latest in a series of requests, would impose a significant burden and:

  • clearly does not have any serious purpose or value
  • is designed to cause disruption or annoyance
  • has the effect of harassing the public authority
  • can otherwise fairly be characterised as obsessive or manifestly unreasonable

What does this mean for me?

If we determine that your FOI request is vexatious or repetitious, we will contact you to inform you of our decision and the reasons for it.

If you are unhappy with our decision, you can contact the Information Commissioner who will look into the case for you. Find out more on the Information Commissioner's website.