LTT178 - A public authority shall not charge for allowing an applicant to inspect information
- FOI/EIR: EIR
- Section/Regulation: reg 8(2)(b)
- Issue: A public authority shall not charge for allowing an applicant to inspect information
- Related Lines to Take: LTT156
- Related Documents: EA/2009/0069; Guidance on Property Searches
- Source: FOI Policy
- Details: East Riding of Yorkshire Council (15 March 2010)
- Contact: DC
- Date: 22/06/2010
- Policy Reference: LTT178
- © Copyright Information Commissioner's Office, re-used with permission
- Original source linked from here: LTT
Line to take
Where a public authority attempts to charge for allowing an applicant to inspect the requested information, but does not actually collect a fee because the applicant refuses to pay, it is still in breach of regulation 8(2)(b).
Regulation 8(2)(b) States that "A public authority shall not make any charge for allowing an applicant to examine the information requested at the place which the public authority makes available for that examination".
Regulation 6(1) allows an applicant to request that information is made available in a particular form or format. The Commissioner’s view, which was endorsed by the Information Tribunal in East Riding of Yorkshire Council v ICO & York Place (EA/2009/0069), is that this gives an applicant the right to ask for the opportunity to inspect the information (see LTT156). Where inspection is allowed, the authority cannot make any charge, in accordance with regulation 8(2)(b).
Situations may arise whereby an authority attempts to levy such a charge but it does not actually collect any fee, for example because the applicant has refused to pay. However, regulation 8(2)(b) has still been breached because the public authority required the payment of a fee in order to allow inspection of the requested information. This will remain the case even where the public authority subsequently provides the applicant with a hard copy of the information and makes a charge for that, because regulation 8(2)(b) will have been breached as a result of the attempt to charge for allowing inspection. In other words, the breach occurs at the point where the public authority attempts to make a charge for inspection and not when the charge Is actually collected.
This issue has arisen in the context of requests to inspect information for property search purposes. Further information on this subject can be found in guidance produced by the ICO. This includes discussion of charging for such information