FOI request detail

emails containing Arup and Uber

Request ID: FOI-2199-1718
Date published: 09 November 2017

You asked

How ever I'd like to reduce my scope to all emails with Arup and Uber referenced in the same email from July 2014 - Dec 2014

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-2199-1718

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 20 October 2017 asking for correspondence containing the word “Uber” and “Arup”.

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.

We recently responded to a request for identical information, but across a wider time period. This response contained a refusal in accordance with section 14(1) of the FOI Act. Your request features as part of six separate requests we have received from different individuals asking for this same correspondence in concurrent six month periods using identical wording. Furthermore, the majority of those requests were submitted just minutes apart. To that extent, we are mindful of requests on the same or similar subject from individuals working in concert. We therefore feel it is reasonable to conclude that these requests have indeed been submitted as part of a concerted effort to circumvent the refusal notice previously issued.

As stated in our initial refusal notice, of which you are presumably aware, there were in excess of 50,000 individual emails caught by a request for this same information across a five year time period. The Act allows us to consider the aggregated impact of dealing with requests by parties working in concert as part of a campaign and we conclude that processing these would cause a disproportionate and unjustified level of disruption. In any case, we consider that it would be reasonable to conclude that any of these individual requests would be similarly burdensome on its own merit in terms of the volume of information caught by such a broad and unfocussed request.

We also consider that these requests appear to be part of a completely random approach, lack any clear focus, and seem to have been solely designed for the purpose of ‘fishing’ for information without any idea of what might be revealed. Therefore we are refusing your request under section 14(1).

When considering future requests, you should consider carefully the information you require and submit requests that are as focussed and concise as possible. Where it is clear that individuals (including pseudonyms) are acting in concert, either to circumvent refusal notices or the fees regulations, the Act allows a public authority to consider these together when received within a 60 working day period. A scattergun approach to FOI requests can therefore invoke the aggregate cost limit by virtue of allowing requests from different individuals to be linked and this should be considered, with your requests being carefully considered and prioritised before being submitted.

Since April, we estimate that we have received over 50 FOI requests from individuals linked to the LCDC, although the actual number is likely to be higher. Where these requests overlap and/or focus on the same or similar subject, it may be necessary for us to consider future requests collectively to avoid misuse or abuse of the Act, particularly where such requests may have a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption towards already limited resources and placing an unacceptable burden on a small number of personnel.

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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