Line to take - LTT177 - Advice and assistance where a request cannot be refined

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  • FOI/EIR: FOI
  • Section/Regulation: s12, s16
  • Issue: Advice and assistance where a request cannot be refined
  • Source: Policy Team
  • Details: n/a
  • Related Lines to Take: LTT87, LTT141
  • Related Documents: n/a
  • Contact: HD
  • Date: 07/05/2010
  • Policy Reference: LTT177
  • © Copyright Information Commissioner's Office, re-used with permission
  • Original source linked from here: LTT


Line to take

The Commissioner may find a breach of s16 where a public authority has failed to either confirm what information can be provided under the costs limit or where a public authority has failed to indicate that no information can be provided under the costs limit.


Further Information

Paragraph 14 of the s45 Code of Practice says as follows:

"Where an authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information because, under section 12(1) and regulations made under section 12, the cost of complying would exceed the “appropriate limit” (i.e. cost threshold) the authority should consider providing an indication of what, if any, information could be provided within the cost ceiling” (emphasis added).

Where a public authority cites s12, the Code indicates that the authority should consider providing an indication of what information could be provided within the costs limit. This allows the applicant to choose how to refine his/her request to successfully obtain a more limited piece or section of the requested information.

However, a plain English interpretation of the phrase “...the authority should consider providing an indication of what, if any, information could be provided...” would also require a public authority to indicate where no information can be provided within the costs limit. This would be useful because:-

  • If the applicant understands and accepts that no information can be provided, then this may avoid further and futile attempts to refine the request to bring it under the costs limit.
  • Also as the applicant would understand the way in which the decision had been reached then this would allow him/her to properly challenge the decision i.e. either with an appeal or focusing the request in another direction.

Therefore, the Commissioner may find a breach of s16 where a public authority has failed to either confirm what information can be provided under the costs limit or has failed to indicate that no information can be provided under the costs limit where it would have been appropriate to do so in the circumstances of the case.