Freedom of Information Act 2014

Refusal on administrative grounds to grant FOI requests

15. (1) A head to whom an FOI request is made may refuse to grant the request where—

(a) the record concerned does not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken,

(b) the FOI request does not comply with section 12 (1)(b),

(c) in the opinion of the head, granting the request would, by reason of the number or nature of the records concerned or the nature of the information concerned, require the retrieval and examination of such number of records or an examination of such kind of the records concerned as to cause a substantial and unreasonable interference with or disruption of work (including disruption of work in a particular functional area) of the FOI body concerned,

(d) the information is already in the public domain,

(e) publication of the record is required by law and is intended to be effected not later than 12 weeks after the receipt of the request by the head,

(f) the FOI body intends to publish the record and such publication is intended to be effected not later than 6 weeks after the receipt of the request by the head,

(g) the request is, in the opinion of the head, frivolous or vexatious or forms part of a pattern of manifestly unreasonable requests from the same requester or from different requesters who, in the opinion of the head, appear to have made the requests acting in concert,

(h) a fee or deposit payable under section 27 in respect of the request concerned or in respect of a previous request by the same requester has not been paid, or

(i) the request relates to records already released, either to the same or a previous requester where—

(i) the records are available to the requester concerned, or

(ii) it appears to the head concerned that that requester is acting in concert with a previous requester.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), a head may refuse to grant—

(a) a record that is available for inspection by members of the public whether upon payment or free of charge, or

(b) a record a copy of which is available for purchase or removal free of charge by members of the public,

whether by virtue of an enactment (other than this Act) or otherwise.

(3) A record shall not be within subsection (2) by reason only of the fact that it contains information constituting personal data to which the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 apply.

(4) A head shall not refuse, pursuant to paragraph (b) or (c) of subsection (1), to grant an FOI request unless he or she has assisted, or offered to assist, the requester concerned in an endeavour so as to amend the request for re-submission such that it no longer falls within those paragraphs.