To get some information, a person needs to pay some charges which is understandable.

Most requests are free but you might be asked to pay a small amount for photocopies or postage. The organisation will tell you if you have to pay anything.


I understand that is not a meagre amount. However, if I am even ready to pay whatever it cost, why can FOI deny information that would cost more than £450?

An organisation can also refuse your Freedom of Information (FOI) request if getting information will cost more than £450, or £600................


This is understandable. Few things can never be made public as given in the same link as above.

sensitive information is not available to members of the public.

Anything else?


1 Answer 1


The question in the title and in the middle of the body of the post is very different from the question at the end of the body of the post. I'm going to have a go at answering the question in the title and in the middle of the body of the post.

The right of public authorities to deny a request when the cost of complying would exceed some threshold arises under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; but through most of the (long) time the Freedom of Information Bill was passing through Parliament, what's now section 12 was known as "clause 11".

The only time clause 11 got any serious debate on the way through Parliament was in a Commons standing committee on 18th January 2000. In that debate, the reason given for making it possible to deny expensive-to-fill requests was to avoid excessive costs falling on the taxpayer.

"But wait", you say, "that doesn't make any sense: under section 13 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, public authorities can charge the applicant for the costs of these expensive-to-fill requests, and therefore the cost wouldn't fall on the taxpayer". What that argument would be missing is that, as the Bill stood at the time of the debate on 18th January 2000, the clause that would become section 13 didn't exist: that clause was added to the Bill by a (government-sponsored) House of Lords amendment on 17th October 2000.

  • 3
    @Gary2 I see what you mean about the questions in the title and the body; answer edited accordingly. The reason why the denial was there in the first place was, as per my answer, 'to avoid excessive costs falling on the taxpayer'. Commented Aug 21, 2021 at 16:11

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