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Home Positive Action Group Our Charter and Objectives Open and Accountable PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill - Draft Bill:Clauses 43-47

PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill - Draft Bill:Clauses 43-47

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Article Index
PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information Bill
Executive Summary
Draft Bill Clauses 5 to 10
Draft Bill: Clauses 11-14
Draft Bill: Clauses 18-22
Draft Bill: Clauses 27-31
Draft Bill: Clauses 34-42
Draft Bill:Clauses 43-47
Draft Bill: Clauses 48-50
Draft Bill: Clauses 53-67
All Pages

Clause 43 – Vexatious requests

 (1)       A public authority need not comply with a request for information if it considers the request to be vexatious


There is no reason for the words “if it considers” to be in this provision. Its effect is give weight to the authority’s opinion and make it harder for the Commissioner to override the authority’s decision. “If it is vexatious” is sufficient.

(3)       A request may be vexatious if –

(a)       the applicant has no real interest in the information sought; and

(b)       the information is being sought for a bad or illegitimate reason, which may include a desire to cause administrative difficulty or inconvenience.


Neither the UK nor the Scottish Act has a statutory definition of “vexatious”, as in this clause. The definition itself is not particularly objectionable. However, the definition is not exhaustive. A request could be regarded as vexatious in entirely different circumstances.

To avoid confusion (3) should be removed

Clause 44 – Repeated requests

 (1)      This section applies if –

(a)       an applicant has previously made a request for information to a public authority that it has complied with; and

(b)       the applicant makes a request for information that is identical or substantially similar.


 Preferable that (b) should state: “the applicant makes a request to that authority for information that is identical or substantially similar”.

 This would prevent authorities refusing a request on the grounds that the applicant has previously applied to a different authority for similar information.

Clause 45 – Code of practice

 (2)       The code must, in particular, make provision in relation to –

(a)       the determination of the public interest when considering requests concerning qualified exempt information;


The definition of public interest would be better left to the Commissioner, rather than a code of practice issued by the Council of Ministers. It just opens the door for ministers to do something unhelpful and require the Commissioner and Tribunal to have regard to that.

The Commissioner will probably produce some guidance on the public interest test.

Clause 47 – General functions of the Information Commissioner

(2) The Information Commissioner must provide the public with such information as her or she considers appropriate


Typing error!



0 #2 RE: PAG Submission to Consultation on Freedom of Information BillGuest 2011-11-01 20:34
I cannot accept that a Crown Dependency should have entirely separate legislation to the UK. The cost of modern governance is beyond that which our island could collect through fair taxation. Therefore, I propose that our Civil Service should be an extention of the UK operation, on some matters.
0 #1 Peel Commissioners view of Draft FoI Billroy 2010-09-28 11:59

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