The four broad themes considered by the Upper Tribunal in Dransfield were:
- the burden (on the public authority and its staff);
- the motive (of the requester);
- the value or serious purpose (of the request); and
- any harassment or distress (of and to staff).
You should not use these four broad themes as a checklist, and they are not exhaustive. The Upper Tribunal emphasised that:
“all the circumstances need to be considered in reaching what is ultimately a value judgement as to whether the request in issue is vexatious in the sense of being a disproportionate, manifestly unjustified, inappropriate or improper use of FOIA” (paragraph 82).
At appeal, in upholding the Upper Tribunal’s decision, the Court of Appeal did not depart from the Upper Tribunal’s approach of using the four broad themes.
These themes provide a useful structure to start analysing whether a request is vexatious, but you should keep in mind that you need to adopt a holistic approach. You may identify other factors not mentioned here which are relevant to your circumstances and you should make sure you consider those as well.