Search This Blog

Friday, March 10, 2006

UK FOI finding on vexatious applicant

The UK Information Commissioner (Case Ref: FS 50078594) has issued a decision notice on his first case involving an agency consideration of the use of the provision in the FOI Act which allows an agency to refuse to deal with vexatious applications.

Following the criteria contained in a published guidance note on the topic the Commissioner found that a person who had lodged 25 applications (not identical but forming a pattern of thematic requests) had imposed a significant burden on the agency involving substantial resources, that the requests had the effect of harassing the agency, and could otherwise be characterised as obsessive or manifestly unreasonable. It was relevant in this case that the applicant had been judged to be vexatious in other proceedings.

The Commissioner upheld the decision of the agency.

Most FOI acts except Queensland, don't have a vexatious applicant provision. Amendments last year to the Queensland FOI Act gives the Information Commissioner powers to find an FOI applicant to be vexatious. In other jurisdictions the review body (in NSW the ADT) has powers to dismiss an application for review on the basis that it is frivolous, vexatious or lacking in substance. The NSW ADT Practice Rule 12 includes vexatious as one of the grounds on which costs may be awarded against a party and the Tribunal has recently shown that it is prepared to make such a decision.

No one in Australia so far has given an agency power to refuse an FOI application on the grounds that it is vexatious.

Who knows whether something like this might get a run if and when legislation in most of our jurisdictions finally gets reviewed?

Thanks to Steve Wood's UK FOI blog for the lead.

No comments:

Post a Comment