Line to take - LTT72 - Timing of reliance on s11

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  • Section/Regulation: s11
  • Issue: Timing of reliance on s11
  • Source: Decision Notice
  • Details: Bath & North Somerset Council / [Redacted name] (17 May 2007)
  • Related Lines to Take: n/a
  • Related Documents: FS50094281
  • Contact: EW
  • Date: 24/09/2007
  • Policy Reference: LTT72
  • © Copyright Information Commissioner's Office, re-used with permission
  • Original source linked from here: LTT

Line to take

Section 11 can only be considered where the applicant expresses their preference for means of communication at the time the request is made. Applicants cannot therefore claim retrospectively that they required information to be provided by different means to the means by which it was, in fact, provided.

Further Information

Section 11 clearly states that a public authority should (so far as reasonably practicable) give effect to an applicant’s preference for the means by which requested information should be communicated where the applicant expresses their preference, “on making his request for information.”

If an applicant only expresses this preference after receiving the information requested, public authorities have no obligations in respect of section 11.

The decision notice in case FS50094281 states that:

“With regards to the complainant’s request to receive a further copy of the information supplied in a different format*, it is apparent that he did not specify at the time of making his initial request that he required the information to be communicated to him in a particular way. It is clear from the documentation available that the complainant’s preferences to the way the information should be presented were submitted to the Council after its initial disclosure of the information held. Although section 11 states that a public authority should consider the applicant’s preference for the method by which the information is communicated, the public authority is only obliged to do so when this preference is expressed, “on making the application.” As the complainant made no specific request at the outset, the Commissioner is of the view that section 11 cannot apply in this case and therefore the Council was under no obligation to reconsider the way it presented the information or to comply with complainant’s subsequent requirements.”

The ICO considers that where an applicant expresses a preference after the original request but before the public authority has begun dealing with it, that expression of preference should be regarded as having been made on making the request, and should therefore be given effect to.

(*) It should be noted that there is no reference to “format” in section 11.