Number of cases ICO has declined to issue decision pursuant to s50(2)(c)

Jonathan Baines made this Freedom of Information request to Information Commissioner's Office

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Jonathan Baines

Dear Information Commissioner’s Office

I note that in a recent costs decision in the First-tier Tribunal of the General Regulatory Chamber (Information Rights) Judge Warren noted that

"If [a] complaint to the ICO appears to be
'frivolous or vexatious,' then there is no need for him even to make any decision appealable to the Tribunal. See Section 50(2) FIA. I am not aware of any published information about the extent to which the ICO makes use of this important provision."

Nor am I aware of any such published information. If you hold it, please will you disclose it to me? Ideally I would like the total number of cases, broken down into years, where a person has applied for a decision (pursuant to section 50(1)) but the IC has declined to make a decision on the grounds that it appears to him that the application is frivolous or vexatious.

Many thanks,
Jonathan Baines

Jonathan Baines

Hi - just for reference, the case is EA/2013/0005 (Snee v IC & Leeds City Council).

Thanks
Jonathan Baines

Information Commissioner's Office

3 June 2014

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0542143

 

Dear Mr Baines
 
Request for Information
 
Thank you for your correspondence dated 20 May 2014 in which you request
information about the number of times the ICO has applied the provisions
of section 50(2)(c) of FOIA in declining to issue a decision.
 
Your request is being dealt with in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. We will respond promptly, and no later than 18 June
which is 20 working days from the day after we received your request.
 
Should you wish to reply to this email, please be careful not to amend the
information in the ‘subject’ field. This will ensure that the information
is added directly to your case.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Steven Dickinson                 Lead Information Access Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545676 F. 01625 524510 [1]www.ico.org.uk
 
 

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Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

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Information Commissioner's Office

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    Requested information Casework finished with specific FOI casework outcomes vex.friv.complaint.pdf

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9 June 2014

 

Case Reference Number IRQ0542143

Dear Mr Baines,
 
I am writing further to our 3 June acknowledgement of your correspondence
dated 20 May 2014 in which you request information about the number of
times the ICO has applied the provisions of section 50(2)(c) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) in declining to issue a decision.
As you know, we have dealt with your request in accordance with FOIA.
 
You requested:
 
“I would like the total number of cases, broken down into years, where a
person has applied for a decision (pursuant to section 50(1)) but the IC
has declined to make a decision on the grounds that it appears to him that
the application is frivolous or vexatious.”
 
Please find attached a table giving the number of cases, broken down by
financial year, recorded on the ICO casework system and where the case
closure is shown as ‘closed – frivolous’ or ‘closed – vexatious’. These
case outcomes reflect the fact that the ICO has declined to make a
decision on the complaint because the complaint itself is considered
frivolous or vexatious and are, as you have indicated, closed exercising
the provisions of section 50(2)(c) of FOIA.
 
These case closures are, as I know you are aware, entirely different to a
finding from the ICO that the original request for information was
frivolous or vexatious (ie under the provisions of section 14(1) of FOIA)
and should therefore not be confused with a decision notice upholding a
public authority’s application of section 14(1).
 
A note about statistical information provided.
 
You have requested historical statistics concerning the office’s
complaint  handling. Since 2003 the details of all complaints and
enquiries received by the ICO (known as ‘cases’) have been put onto on our
electronic case management system. The correspondence is scanned onto the
system and an electronic record is created for every case, every
complainant or enquirer and every ‘complained about’ organisation.
 
Statistical information is obtained from this system and we are able to
extract information about case ‘attributes’, which are added to the record
by the relevant caseworker at various stages during the case. These
include the ‘closure state’ - ie the outcome of the case, and it is this
information which we have searched to provide the statistics attached.
However, the ICO’s retention and disposal schedule requires that we only
retain casework information for two years from the closure of the case, or
the last activity on the case, (unless there are specific reasons why
individual cases need to be retained for longer than this). Cases from our
casework management system that meet our disposal criteria are
automatically deleted, in order to ensure that our casework records comply
with this schedule. This means that though statistical information based
on information over two years old may be available it may be incomplete
and not provide an accurate picture. We are currently able to provide
statistical information on cases for the financial years 2012-2013,
2013-2014, and the current financial year.
 
In order for the ICO to be able to monitor and analyse historical casework
trends over two years old we will also separately hold anonymised casework
statistics outside of our electronic casework management system and we
have been able to provide some information from this source. We hold data
in relation to financial years (ie April-March) and reports will therefore
be generated with reference to financial years. We are currently able to
provide limited historical data for cases from 2009, 2010 and 2011. No
reports can be provided for casework prior to 2007.
 
This concludes our response to your request. I hope this is of help to
you.
 
If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received and wish to
request a review of our decision or make a complaint about how your
request has been handled you should write to the Information Governance
Department at the address below or e-mail
[1][email address]
 
Your request for internal review should be submitted to us within 40
working days of receipt by you of this response.  Any such request
received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the
Commissioner.
 
If having exhausted the review process you are not content that your
request or review has been dealt with correctly, you have a further right
of appeal to this office in our capacity as the statutory complaint
handler under the legislation.  To make such an application, please write
to the Customer Contact department, at the address below or visit the
‘Complaints’ section of our website to make a Freedom of Information Act
or Environmental Information Regulations complaint online.
 
A copy of our review procedure is available [2]here.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Steven Dickinson                 Lead Information Access Officer
 
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T. 01625 545676 F. 01625 524510 [3]www.ico.org.uk
 

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Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

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Jonathan Baines

Dear Steven

Many thanks for such a prompt and comprehensive reply.

best wishes,
Jonathan

casework, Information Commissioner's Office

Thank you for contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). This
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Yours sincerely,

 

 

ICO Customer Contact Department

 

 

 

 

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Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 Fax: 01625 524 510 Web: www.ico.org.uk

References

Visible links
1. http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply
2. http://ico.org.uk/about_us/how_we_comply
3. http://ico.org.uk/news/e-newsletter
4. http://ico.org.uk/news/e-newsletter
5. https://twitter.com/iconews
6. https://twitter.com/iconews