Module 1 - Your current position
The appropriate use of section 14(1) protects your ability to carry out your public functions. When used correctly, it provides a balance between transparency and the protection of resources.
This module is about when you decide to apply section 14(1) to a request, and whether it is upheld. Although there are some circumstances when you may decide to apply section 14(1) at a later stage, such as after internal review, the modules in this toolkit should help you and your colleagues to become familiar and confident in applying section 14(1). This will help you reach balanced, evidence-based decisions when vexatious requests are received.
Your rating will depend on factors such as the number of requests you receive and the size and structure of your organisation. It's up to you to record your rating and provide reasons for it when building an action plan.
Module 2 - Identifying relevant factors
When considering whether a request is vexatious, you should start by identifying serious purpose and value in the request, including any objective public interest in the information. You should then consider the impact and burden of dealing with the request. It is not relevant whether the requested information may be exempt from disclosure. This module focuses on identifying factors on both sides. In the next module, you can assess how you consider and balance the factors, to take an overall approach.
This module also covers your understanding of when you can rely on section 14(1) to refuse a single burdensome request.
Module 3 - Considering and balancing
Balancing all relevant factors allows you to take an overall approach. While a request can be vexatious and not a requester, you can take into account the context and history. You should gather evidence of your overall position, before carrying out a weighing or balancing exercise to determine whether the request imposes a disproportionate burden on your organisation and is vexatious. Your decision should be informed by internal consultation where possible. At times, it may be appropriate to consider alternative approaches.
The questions within this module cover how well you are performing in these areas.
Module 4 - Refusals and advice
You're usually required to issue a refusal notice explaining that you are refusing the request under section 14(1). You're not required to provide reasons, but it is good practice to do so, and this can be an effective way to provide advice and assistance where appropriate. In some circumstances where a request is vexatious, you can rely on section 17(6) and not issue a notice.
This module assesses how you refuse vexatious requests, your understanding of section 17(6) of FOIA, and advice and assistance.
Module 5 - Culture, learning and assurance
This module covers how you meet the requirements of FOIA, and particularly section 14(1), in terms of your culture of openness and transparency. It also covers the review of practices, training and lessons learned, and allows you to consider how monitoring helps improve compliance.