Line to take - LTT103 - Provision of information under under request headings

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  • FOI/EIR: EIR
  • Section/Regulation: reg 6
  • Issue: Provision of information under under request headings
  • Source: Information Tribunal
  • Details: Keston Ramblers Association / London Borough of Bromley (26 October 2007)
  • Related Lines to Take: LTT106
  • Related Documents: EA/2005/0024
  • Contact: LB
  • Date: 09/06/2008
  • PoIicy Reference: LTT103
  • © Copyright Information Commissioner's Office, re-used with permission
  • Original source linked from here: LTT


Line to take

“The expression ‘form or format’ is not a reference to categories of subject matter, but is a reference to whether the information should be supplied by means of paper copies, or electronically, or by viewing of a microfiche and so on” (The Information Tribunal in Keston Ramblers Association v Information Commissioner and London Borough of Bromley (EA/2005/0024) at paragraph 50)

Further Information

Regulation 6(1) provides:

“Where an applicant requests that the information be made available in a particular form or format, a public authority shall make it so available, unless —
(a) it is reasonable for it to make the information available in another form or format; or
(b) the information is already publicly available and easily accessible to the applicant in another form or format.”

In Keston Ramblers, the appellant submitted that the public authority’s response did not comply with regulation 6 of the EIRs, as it had failed to sort the information relevant to the request and supply it under the seven headings set out in the request.

The Tribunal rejected this element of the appeal for a number of reasons, including:

1. the request did not ask for the information to be supplied under the seven headings of the request, indeed to do so would be “inherently impracticable” as items would be likely to fall under more than one heading; and
2. The Commissioner and the public authority submitted to the Tribunal that “the expression ‘form or format’ is not a reference to categories of subject matter, but is a reference to whether the information should be supplied by means of paper copies, or electronically, or by viewing of a microfiche and so on.” The Tribunal concluded that this interpretation was “probably correct” and that therefore even if it were to hold the appellant’s comments regarding the format of the information as forming part of the appeal, it would not find the public authority to have breached regulation 6.

Article 3(4) of the Directive states that “where an applicant requests a public authority to make environmental information available in a specific form or format (including in the form of copies), the public authority shall make it so available”. This lends weight to the ICO view that ‘form and format’ is broad enough to encompass provision of information by different means (as set out by the Tribunal) however does not compel an authority to sort information provided in response to a request under the headings of that request.

These factors suggest that a public authority will not be in breach of regulation 6 if it does not sort the documents it is to provide and supply these under the headings of an applicant’s request.

In some circumstances, and in line with the requirements of other regulations of the EIRs, an authority may be required to provide information under the subject headings set out in a request. This will be covered in a future line to take, to be published shortly.