The following Local Government Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000) provides that a public authority is not obliged to comply with a request for information (in accordance with FIA 2000, s 1) if the cost of complying would exceed the ‘appropriate limit’. See Practice Note: Freedom of information for public sector — When a public authority can refuse a request.
The ‘appropriate limit’ is set out in the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, SI 2004/3244 (the Fees Regulations). The limit for complying with a request (or series of linked requests) is £600 for central government, legislative bodies and the armed forces and £450 for other public authorities (see reg 3).
In estimating whether the cost would exceed the limit, the authority can only take into account costs it reasonably expects to incur in carrying out the certain activities, see reg 4(3). For a recent case concerning costs estimates in this context, see News Analysis: Responding to requests for information—how much is enough?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance on FIA 2000, s 12 confirms:
‘If a public authority estimates that it would exceed the appropriate limit to confirm whether or not the requested information is held then, under section 12(2)
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