The Cost of Compliance Exceeds Appropriate Limit

Here we’ll look at how scheduled public authorities (SPAs) should calculate the costs of complying with a request and what to do if they exceed the cost limit for compliance under the Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law, 2011.

Article 16(1) of the Law allows an SPA to refuse a request, taking into account the following:

• The estimate must be reasonable and explained in a schedule included within the refusal notice.
• Calculations don’t need to be exact but they should be sensible and realistic with evidence to back this up.
• The cost limit is currently £500 calculated from 12.5 hours work at £40 per hour.
• Requests made to a parish will be subject to a limit of £200 for 5 hours work at £40 per hour.
• An SPA refuses should, where reasonable, provide advice and assistance to help the applicant to refine the request so that it can be dealt with under the cost limit.

Alongside staff time there may be occasions when other costs might be incurred. For example, if the SPA’s existing software couldn’t carry out the job but it could purchase specialist software or if off-site storage is used and there is a cost to retrieving data from deep storage.

There may be instances where requests can be aggregated so that costs are considered as a whole. The Fees Regulations state that requests received within 60 consecutive working days can be aggregated.

The SPA may on a rare occasion be able to claim Article 16 outside of the time for statutory compliance.