Request ID: FOI-1391-2223 Date published: 05 October 2022
Revised request - FOI-1173-2223:
All emails/letters between Freenow and TfL between 1st July 2022 – 9th August 2022.
Our Ref: FOI-1391-2223
Thank you for your request received on 9 September 2022 asking for correspondence between TfL and Free Now.
Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information (FOI) 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.
The search we have carried out using the parameters set in your request has identified 956 emails. An initial review has indicated that many of these will be receipts etc. from staff using their staff email and are likely to be of limited value for your enquiries. However, we would need to review all of the emails to determine this.
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 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.
Gemma Jacob Senior FOI Case Officer FOI Case Management Team General Counsel Transport for London