This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Leaving the single market'.


 
 
 
 
 
 
Freedom of Information Team 
xxx@xxxxx.xxx.xx 
Correspondence Unit 
www.gov.uk 
9 Downing Street 
SW1A 2AG 
 
 
 
DExEU ref: DEX000099 
Internal Review ref: DEX000099IR 
 
19 January 2017 
 
Iain Overton  
Via: ​xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx 
  
INTERNAL REVIEW UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 
 
Dear Mr Overton, 
 
Thank you for your email of 22 November 2016 requesting an internal review of our handling 
of your request for information, made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’) 
on 04 November 2016. I apologise for the delay in my response.  
 
In your initial request for information, you asked to be provided ​with “any briefing papers to 
Mr Davis MP regarding the benefits and the pitfal s of leaving the single market.” 
 
I have considered the points you make about the use of Section 12 of the Act on time limits 
and have carefully reviewed the handling of your request. 
 
Although I appreciate the points you raise in your request for an internal review, Section 12 
allows that the time included in the £600 limit should include: 
 

“determining whether the information is held;   

locating the information, or a document containing it;   

retrieving the information, or a document containing it; and   

extracting the information from a document containing it.” 
 
I believe that the time necessary to locate, retrieve and extract information likely to be 
relevant to your request would be likely to exceed the limit. I have outlined this reasoning 
below. 
 
Relevant information covered by your request is likely to be held in several different email 
accounts, each of which would need to be searched. Relevant information covered by your 
request is also likely to be held outwith the email system, so further searches would have to 
be made of document storage of a large number of officials. 
 
It is likely that information could conceivably not include any specific reference to the term 
 

 
“single market” while still being related to your request - for example where it referred to 
specific or potential tariffs, so further searches for related terms would have to be made. 
Finding if this information exists and then retrieving and extracting it from al  of these 
locations, and compiling the information which is relevant to your request is likely to exceed 
the appropriate limit laid down in the regulations. 
In your request for an internal review, you ask that we carry out this search up to the limit 
imposed by Section 12. The ICO guidance (I attach a link hereto) states that ​(Point 30) a 
public authority can stop searching as soon as it realises that it would exceed the 
appropriate limit to fully comply with the request – indeed the guidance recommends that the 
authority ​should​ do so. They are also, under the guidance, not obliged to search up to the 
appropriate limit.  
https://ico.org.uk/media/1199/costs_of_compliance_exceeds_appropriate_limit.pdf 
I have therefore concluded that in the circumstances, it was reasonable to apply Section 12 
of the Act to your initial request, and uphold the decision given in our previous letter. 
 
However, I also wish to provide you further assistance as to how you might frame a similar 
request that will fall within the limitations of Section 12. ​This might be through giving a short 
and specific timescale, reducing the number of people and/or types of information about 
which you wish to enquire, and/or relating the request to more specific topics. 
So for example a request likely to fal  within the time limits might relate to records of “key 
briefing submissions made to the Secretary of State regarding [specific topic X] between 
[dates Y and Z].” The more specific the topic (particularly) the more likely the search can be 
confined to a manageable number of documents, therefore avoiding the limit imposed by 
Section 12. 
I should, however, make clear that if DExEU does hold any information relevant to such a 
request, it may still be subject to one or more of the exemptions contained in the Act. 
I appreciate that receiving a refusal under the Act can be frustrating, and I hope that my 
response goes some way to assisting you. We would be pleased to offer further advice in 
framing future requests if you so wish (within reason of course). 
This response concludes the appeals process available from the Department for Exiting the 
European Union. If you are stil  unhappy with the handling of your request for information, 
you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The 
Information Commissioner can be contacted at: 
  
Information Commissioner’s Office 
Wycliffe House 
Water Lane 
Wilmslow 
Cheshire 
SK9 5AF 
  
Yours sincerely, 
 
 

 
Nick Short 
Head of Freedom of Information, DExEU