Under Article 21(1) of the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law, 2011, scheduled public authorities (SPAs) don’t have to comply with vexatious requests. There is no public interest test.
Article 21(1) may be used in a variety of circumstances where a request, or its impact on a public authority, cannot be justified. Whilst SPAs should think carefully before refusing a request as vexatious they shouldn’t regard Article 21(1) as something which can only be used in the most extreme of circumstances.
Here are a few points to bear in mind:
• Article 21(1) can only be applied to the request itself, not the individual who submitted it.
• Sometimes a request may be so unreasonable or objectionable that it’s obviously vexatious.
• If the issue isn’t clear-cut: does the request include a desire to cause administrative difficulty or inconvenience? This may take some objective judgement regarding impact on the authority versus the purpose and value of the request.
• Take into account the context and history of the request, where relevant.
• Consider whether a more conciliatory approach could help before refusing a request as vexatious. An SPA must still issue a refusal notice unless it has already given the same individual a refusal notice for a previous vexatious request, and it would be unreasonable to issue another one.
If the cost of compliance is the only or main issue, consider first whether Article 16(1) applies. There’s no obligation to comply where the cost of dealing with the request exceeds the appropriate limit.
You can read more detail about dealing with vexatious requests (Article 21) in our guide.