Manifestly unfounded or excessive requests

This guidance is for any member of staff who receives requests for information during the course of their work.

Where requests are manifestly unfounded or excessive, in particular because they are repetitive, a reasonable fee can be charged (taking into account the administrative costs of providing the information) or we can refuse to respond. We expect that it will only be necessary to charge a fee or to refuse a request in exceptional circumstances and you must contact Information Compliance Services first for guidance.

Where we intend to refuse to respond to a request, the applicant must be informed without due delay, and at the latest within one month, and provided with an explanation for the refusal. The applicant must also be informed of their right to complain to the ICO.

What does manifestly unfounded mean?

A request may be manifestly unfounded if:

  • the individual clearly has no intention to exercise their right of access. For example an individual makes a request, but then offers to withdraw it in return for some form of benefit from the organisation; or
  • the request is malicious in intent and is being used to harass an organisation with no real purposes other than to cause disruption

What does excessive mean?

A request may be excessive if:

  • it repeats the substance of previous requests and a reasonable interval has not elapsed; or
  • it overlaps with other requests.

However, it depends on the particular circumstances.

More detailed guidance on when a request is likely to be manifestly unfounded or excessive is available in the ICO Guide to Data Protection.

ICO - Can we refuse to comply with a request?