FOIA Section 12 Exemption

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Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit

Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act allows public authorities to refuse to answer requests for information if the cost of complying would exceed the 'appropriate limit' prescribed in the Fees Regulations (SI 2004/3244).
MoJ Guidance.

Appropriate limits

  • Central government departments: £600
  • Other departments: £450
  • These are equivalent to 24 hours effort and 18 hours effort respectively, based on £25/hour.
  • The list of Central Government deparments is listed in Schedule 1 Part 1 of the FOI Act

Rules on calculating costs

The Regulations only allow some costs to be counted. Specifically, the costs it incurs in:

(a) determining whether it holds the information,
(b) locating the information, or a document which may contain the information,
(c) retrieving the information, or a document which may contain the information, and
(d) extracting the information from a document containing it.

and if those costs are attributable to the time people spend on those activities, they must be charged at £25/hr (whatever the staff time actually costs).

The costs of removing information that was requested but is exempt under FOIA do not fall within the scope of the Fees Regulations. This was confirmed explicitly by the Information Tribunal in The Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police v IC EA/2009/0029.

Requirement to provide advice and assistance

Charging fees

ICO Lines To Take

Relevant Lines to Take
  • LTT192 - Rejecting procedural exemptions / exceptions - 18/01/2011
  • LTT123 - Vexatious requests - 13/09/2010
  • LTT175 - Flowchart for LTT174 - 04/09/2010
  • LTT174 - Calculating costs where request(s) span several access regimes (DPA/FOIA/EIR) - 04/09/2010
  • LTT177 - Advice and assistance where a request cannot be refined - 05/07/2010
  • LTT115 - Redaction and the Fees Regulations - 18/01/2010
  • LTT137 - Refined and clarified requests as "new” requests - 14/09/2009
  • LTT145 - Aggregation of multiple requests within a single item of correspondence - 03/09/2009
  • LTT4 - Use of specialist staff or software - 13/02/2009
  • LTT141 - Advice and assistance in relation to s12 - 13/02/2009
  • LTT78 - Information held in electronic databases - 02/02/2009
  • LTT116 - Reasonable estimates - 11/11/2008
  • LTT31 - Duty to search only up to the appropriate limit - 23/04/2008
  • LTT138 - Degree of similarity required in order to aggregate requests - 12/04/2008


ICO Decision Notices

Complaints upheld / partly upheld (P) Complaints not upheld
  • FS50186040 - Metropolitan Police Service - 23/11/2009
  • FS50169315(P) - North West London Hospitals NHS Trust - 16/11/2009
  • FS50108668(P) - Learning and Skills Council - 11/08/2009
  • FS50164262 - Bristol City Council - 27/05/2009
  • FS50121803 - Ministry of Justice - 14/04/2009
  • FS50190235 - Forestry Commission Scotland - 30/03/2009
  • FS50176942(P) - Forestry Commission Scotland - 30/03/2009
  • FS50187763(P) - Forestry Commission Scotland - 30/03/2009
  • FS50176016 - Forestry Commission Scotland - 30/03/2009
  • FS50073464 - South Yorkshire Police - 16/03/2009
  • FS50088736 - Department of Health - 29/01/2009
  • FS50169313(P) - British Museum - 23/10/2008
  • FS50127256 - Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service - 14/10/2008
  • FS50106800 - Metropolitan Police Service - 20/08/2008
  • FS50094891 - Commonwealth Development Corporation (‘CDC’) - 19/03/2008
  • FS50099223 - Ministry of Defence - 21/01/2008
  • FS50150536 - Hampshire County Council - 02/01/2008
  • FS50106206 - Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs - 25/10/2007
  • FS50144286 - Brockhampton Group Parish Council - 25/06/2007
  • FS50118044 - Leeds City Council - 10/04/2007
  • FS50135471 - Brockhampton Group Parish Council - 29/03/2007
  • FS50097435 - London Borough of Hounslow - 31/05/2006
  • FS50128567 - Department of Health - 30/03/2010
  • FS50279800 - Ministry of Justice - 29/03/2010
  • FS50193661 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 29/03/2010
  • FS50211876 - Portsmouth City Council - 25/03/2010
  • FS50225815 - Cumbria Constabulary - 23/03/2010
  • FS50171231 - British Council - 09/03/2010
  • FS50163207 - British Council - 09/03/2010
  • FS50191904 - Financial Services Authority - 08/03/2010
  • FS50124339 - Home Office - 02/03/2010
  • FS50143525 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 02/03/2010
  • FS50194062 - National Savings and Investments - 02/03/2010
  • FS50144707 - Department for Children, Schools and Families - 01/03/2010
  • FS50246007 - Serious Fraud Office - 01/03/2010
  • FS50207333 - Her Majesty's Courts Service - 25/02/2010
  • FS50236068 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 12/01/2010
  • FS50102962 - Ministry of Defence - 21/12/2009
  • FS50203058 - Office of Communications - 21/12/2009
  • FS50211315 - University of Leeds - 17/12/2009
  • FS50227557 - Nottinghamshire County Teaching Primary Care Trust - 17/12/2009
  • FS50254756 - Derby City Council - 16/12/2009
  • FS50220025 - Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission - 14/12/2009
  • FS50229521 - Home Office - 10/12/2009
  • FS50256879 - Home Office - 03/12/2009
  • FS50142898 - Lancashire Police - 30/11/2009
  • FS50202964 - National Offender Management Service - 25/11/2009
  • FS50191595 - Arts Council England - 23/11/2009
  • FS50129430 - Financial Services Authority - 18/11/2009
  • FS50179473 - Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - 18/11/2009
  • FS50163685 - Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - 09/11/2009
  • FS50205855 - Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - 09/11/2009
  • FS50180899 - Insolvency Service - 04/11/2009
  • FS50182746 - Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - 03/11/2009
  • FS50165492 - Bridgend County Borough Council - 22/10/2009
  • FS50238411 - City of York Council - 05/10/2009
  • FS50230575 - Leicester City Council - 09/09/2009
  • FS50210439 - Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust - 17/08/2009
  • FS50212832 - Crown Prosecution Service - 29/07/2009
  • FS50185989 - National Police Improvement Agency - 27/07/2009
  • FS50197355 - City of Westminster Council - 27/07/2009
  • FS50190669 - Wood Green High School - 16/07/2009
  • FS50209825 - Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust - 08/07/2009
  • FS50198530 - Financial Services Authority - 08/07/2009
  • FS50217364 - University of Wolverhampton - 22/06/2009
  • FS50201884 - Challock Parish Council - 16/06/2009
  • FS50152489 - Police Service of Northern Ireland - 21/05/2009
  • FS50165274 - Buckinghamshire County Council - 18/05/2009
  • FS50203140 - Cabinet Office - 13/05/2009
  • FS5015374 - BBC - 22/04/2009
  • FS50197237 - Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - 19/03/2009
  • FS50105778 - UK Borders Agency - 05/03/2009 … further results

Includes DNs up to: 26 April 2010



Freedom of Information Act 2000
Exemptions
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