Environmental Information Regulations 2004—clarifying requests

The following Environment practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Environmental Information Regulations 2004—clarifying requests
  • Reading objectively
  • Context can be an important factor in interpreting requests
  • Seeking clarification and duty to provide advice and assistance
  • Effect of clarifying requests on timetable

Environmental Information Regulations 2004—clarifying requests

Updated in partnership with Patrick Senior of Stephenson Harwood

Where requests under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR 2004), SI 2004/3391 are phrased clearly and unambiguously, the public authority has 20 working days to provide the requested information.

For more information on requests, see Practice Notes: Environmental Information Regulations 2004—requesting information, and Environmental Information Regulations 2004—what is environmental information?

Where the request is unclear, the EIR 2004 requires a public authority to issue a refusal notice under regulation 12(4)(c)—that the request for information is formulated in too general a manner—within 20 working days and at the same time provide advice and assistance to clarify the request so as to enable the authority to identify and locate the information requested.

Reading objectively

When interpreting whether a request is unclear or ambiguous, a public authority must take an objective approach and take the words of the request at their 'face value'.

A request may be formulated in too general a manner if it:

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