FOI request detail


Request ID: FOI-0108-1718
Date published: 16 May 2017

You asked

Could you please supply me with any/all contact emails/phone calls/letters,meetings made by John Mason (former head of TFLTPH) Helen Chapman (Current head of TFLTPH) Leon Daniels, Garrett Emmerson, Sir Peter Hendy has had with Uber UK, Uber BV or ANY branch of Uber PLC based In the UK or the Netherlands or San Francisco USA since Uber were first licensed In 2012.

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-0108-1718


Thank you for your email received by us on 18 April 2017 asking for information about contact between TfL and Uber.


Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.


However, we are refusing your request under section 14(1) of the Act. After reviewing a sample of our records we consider that providing the requested information would place an unreasonable burden on us. Our principal duty is to provide an effective transport service for London and we consider that answering this request would represent a disproportionate effort. It would be a significant distraction from our work managing the TfL network, requiring re-allocation of already limited resources and placing an unacceptable burden on a small number of personnel. We do wish to clarify that whilst we consider that your request falls under section 14(1) of the FOI Act, this does not reflect a conclusion that it has been your intention to deliberately place an undue burden on our resources.


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidance states that one of the indicators of a request which may fall under section 14(1) is that it “appears to be part of a completely random approach, lacks any clear focus, or seems to have been solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed.”


The ICO guidance provides the following examples of a ‘fishing expedition’ request which may fall under section 14(1) if it:


- Imposes a burden by obliging the authority to sift through a substantial volume of information to isolate and extract the relevant details;


- Encompasses information which is only of limited value because of the wide scope of the request;


- Creates a burden by requiring the authority to spend a considerable amount of time considering any exemptions and redactions.


Our view is that all three of these examples apply in this instance. We conducted a remote search for all emails that potentially fit within the scope of your request and this provided 557 ‘hits’ (individual emails, not including associated chains). Searching through such a significant volume of emails time to extract and collate the relevant emails would be a significant task. By its nature, we feel this wide ranging and non-specific request will very likely encompass information which is only of limited value. In that respect, it is noteworthy that your request is not for information on any specific subject or issue. Given the seniority and nature of the roles conducted by the individuals named, it is likely that it would be necessary to spend at least some time, and possibly a significant amount of time, considering exemptions which might be applicable to the information caught by the request. This is likely to include redacting exempt information from emails in which there is very limited public interest but which are caught by your request because they are simply emails between TfL and Uber.


We consider the burden of retrieving, reviewing and redacting the information would be disproportionate to the benefit of providing it. Therefore, due to the wide and unfocused scope of your request, we are refusing it under s.14 of the FOI Act. If you would like to re-submit a more focused, specific request then we will, of course, consider it. For example, a request for information on a particular, specific, subject or issue contained in correspondence exchanged between named individuals over a limited period of time is less likely to raise concerns about the disproportionate effort required to answer it.


Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.


Yours sincerely


Lee Hill

Senior FOI Case Officer


FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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