Freedom of information―vexatious or repeated requests
Produced in partnership with Paul Gibbons
Freedom of information―vexatious or repeated requests

The following Public Law practice note produced in partnership with Paul Gibbons provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Freedom of information―vexatious or repeated requests
  • Vexatious or repeated requests―scope of the exemption
  • Section 14(1)—vexatious requests
  • What is a vexatious request?
  • When might section 14(1) apply?
  • Burden on the public authority
  • Applying section 14(1)
  • Section 14(2)―repeated requests
  • What is a repeated request?
  • When might section 14(2) apply?
  • More...

This Practice Note considers the provisions for refusing vexatious or repeated requests under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FIA 2000), s 14.

Vexatious or repeated requests―scope of the exemption

Section 14 is found in FIA 2000, Pt I which prescribes how requests made under the legislation should be handled. Although it is not one of the exemptions from the right to know listed in FIA 2000, Pt II, in practice it has the same effect in that it allows a public authority to refuse a request for information in specified circumstances.

  1. section 14(1) effectively exempts public authorities from the obligation set out at FIA 2000, s 1(1), namely to inform requesters whether information is held and if so, to provide it to them. This exemption applies where the request is vexatious. FIA 2000 does not further define 'vexatious'

  2. section 14(2) provides the means for public authorities to refuse requests that are repeated. Specifically, it applies where the authority has already provided the information, or 'substantially similar' information, to the applicant in answer to a previous request, and a 'reasonable interval' has not passed between the two requests

The authority does not need to demonstrate the effect of disclosure in order to refuse a vexatious request, only the impact of the request itself.

Section 14 is not subject to a public interest test in the way that qualified

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