Section 14 in both the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“FOIA”) and the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (“FOISA”) enable an authority not to comply with a request for information that is vexatious. What is meant by vexatious in Section 14 of FOIA has been the subject of litigation all the way to the Court of Appeal and the leading authority is Dransfield and another v The Information Commissioner and others  EWCA Civ 454;  1 WLR 5316. However, there has not yet been any litigation in Scotland on the meaning of vexatious within Section 14 of FOISA; the Scottish Information Commissioner’s guidance [pdf] on the subject appears to draw heavily on the Dransfield decision.
Those who make a point of reading the Scottish Information Commissioner’s regular round-ups of decisions will note that the most recent one informs us of an appeal to the Court of Session against a decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner which upheld the authority’s use of Section 14. If the appeal proceeds, it will be the first time that the Scottish courts will have considered Section 14 of FOISA.
It will be interesting to see whether the Court of Session adopts the Dransfield position, or whether it takes a different approach to vexatious requests in Scotland. If the Court of Session does publish an Opinion, we will of course cover it on this blog.
We are able to provide advice and assistance in connection with a range of Freedom of Information matters, including appeals against decisions of both the Scottish and UK Information Commissioners. If you would like to do discuss a Freedom of Information, or any other Information Law, matter with us then you can contact Alistair Sloan on 0345 450 0123. Alternatively, you can send him an E-mail.