Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Repeated and Vexatious requests nuder FOIA

Some discussions about these issues on the JISCmail list serv this week, my comments:

If thinking about classing a request as "repeated" it is important to remember that the Act states:
14 (2) Where a public authority has previously complied with a request for information which was made by any person, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request from that person unless a reasonable interval has elapsed between compliance with the previous request and the making of the current request

On the issue of Vexatious requests I believe that Maurice Frankel has also stated before that the number of cases classed as vexatious should be low.

This is also backed by overseas experience: "The Australian Freedom of Information Act allows the rejection of repeated requests for information that the applicant has been advised is for sale or for information to which access has previously been refused. Commenting on the merits of provisions allowing an agency to reject a "vexatious" request, the ALRC stated that "[i]n the twelve years of operation of the Act, few requests could properly be classified as vexatious." It observed that while there was a high level of support for such a provision, "vexatiousness" was a vague concept"

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