Line to take - LTT32 - Requests for schedules of documents
- FOI/EIR: FOI
- Section/Regulation: s1
- Issue: Requests for schedules of documents
- Source: Decision Notice - Developed by GS; Information Tribunal
- Details: [Redacted name] / FCO (23 October 2006); Berend / LBRT (12 July 2007)
- Related Lines to Take: LTT77, LTT78, LTT79
- Related Documents: FS50070854 [Redacted name], EA/2006/0049 & EA/2006/50 (Berend)
- Contact: EW
- Date: 25/07/2007
- Policy Reference: LTT32
- © Copyright Information Commissioner's Office, re-used with permission
- Original source linked from here: LTT
Line to take
Where a request is made for a for schedule or list of documents, even if the schedule itself does not exist, if the information which would be in the schedule is also a part of other held information, it will also be held, and should be disclosed unless exempt.
Requests for schedules or lists of documents are often made in connection with a FOI request for the documents themselves, and may be made as part and parcel of the main request, before submitting a modified request, or after that request has been refused. Such requests may also stand alone, however.
Requests for schedules are particularly common in the context of requests for correspondence. Information commonly requested in such schedule requests include the name of sender and recipient, date and subject heading.
Where, as a matter of fact, a list of documents is held, this should obviously be provided to the applicant (unless an exemption applies). See LTT78 for the ICO policy line on information held in databases.
Very often, however, no discrete list or schedule will exist and the public authority may argue that for that reason the requested information is not held, and that there is no requirement to create new information. This is not the correct approach.
Requests are for “recorded information” and not for documents. The fact that a schedule does not actually exist does not mean that the information that it might contain does not exist. If the information which would be contained in the schedule described by the applicant is also contained in other documents held by a public authority, that information is held.
For example, a request for a list of correspondence, to include the name of sender, name of recipient and date is equivalent to a request for each piece of correspondence with all other information removed. In other words, a list of this kind will consist only of information extracted from other documents.
The first Decision Notice issued on this subject states: “The information already exists: the public authority cannot be said to be creating it. And, while producing a list of the documents in which the relevant information is contained may be a new task, it is not creating new information; it is simply a re-presentation of existing information as a by-product of responding to the information request.”
In some cases, information requested in a schedule request may not otherwise be held. In these cases, public authorities are under no obligation to create the information in order to provide it, though they may, of course, choose to do so.
Where a schedule request includes a request for a summary of the information in the documents, the public authority should comply so far as reasonably practicable to do so, by virtue of section 11.
If the public authority provides all the information covered by the main request, then it is likely that in doing so it will have provided the information which would be included in a schedule. The public authority should not, however, ignore this element of the request and should explain to the applicant that the information which would be included in a schedule has been provided. Where relevant, it would be appropriate to bring this to the attention of the public authority in a decision notice, even though it may not be regarded as a significant failure.
Schedules of documents not specified in request
In Berend v the ICO and London Borough of Richmond upon Thames (LBRT) the Information Tribunal confirmed that the public authority “were not required to provide a list of material that they had which was not specified in the request, but was in the file, or linked to it or in which they thought the Applicant might be interested”.