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Decision 124/2013 Mr Paul Hutcheon and the Scottish Ministers

Failure to respond to a request and requirement for review

Reference No: 201301339
Decision Date: 28 June 2013

Summary

This decision considers whether the Scottish Ministers (the Ministers) complied with the technical requirements of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 in responding to an information request made by Mr Hutcheon on 3 January 2013.

Background

1. On 3 January 2013, Mr Hutcheon emailed the Ministers requesting certain specified information.

2. Mr Hutcheon received no response to his request.

3. On 30 March 2013, Mr Hutcheon emailed the Ministers, requesting a review in respect of their failure to respond.

4. Mr Hutcheon did not receive a response to his requirement for review and, on 5 June 2013, emailed the Commissioner's Office, stating that he was dissatisfied with that failure and applying to the Commissioner for a decision in terms of section 47(1) of FOISA.

5. The application was validated by establishing that Mr Hutcheon made a request for information to a Scottish public authority and applied to the Commissioner for a decision only after asking the authority to review their response to that request. The case was then allocated to an investigating officer.

Investigation

6. On 10 June 2013, the Ministers were notified in writing that an application had been received from Mr Hutcheon and were invited to comment on the application.

7. The Ministers responded on 25 June 2013, providing the Commissioner with a copy of their response to Mr Hutcheon's requirement for review, also dated 25 June 2013.

Commissioner's analysis and findings

8. Section 10(1) of FOISA gives Scottish public authorities a maximum of 20 working days following the date of receipt of the request to comply with a request for information, subject to certain exceptions which are not relevant in this case.

9. Since the Ministers did not provide a response to Mr Hutcheon's request for information within 20 working days, the Commissioner finds that they failed to comply with section 10(1) of FOISA.

10. Section 21(1) of FOISA gives Scottish public authorities a maximum of 20 working days following the date of receipt of the requirement to comply with a requirement for review, subject to certain exceptions which are not relevant in this case.

11. Since the Ministers did not provide a response to Mr Hutcheon's requirement for review within 20 working days, the Commissioner finds that they failed to comply with section 21(1) of FOISA.

DECISION

The Commissioner finds that the Scottish Ministers (the Ministers) failed to comply with Part 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), by failing to respond to Mr Hutcheon's request for information and requirement for review within the respective timescales laid down by sections 10(1) and 21(1) of FOISA.

Given that the Ministers have now responded to Mr Hutcheon's requirement for review, the Commissioner does not require them to take any action in respect of these failures, in response to Mr Hutcheon's application.

Appeal

Should either Mr Hutcheon or the Scottish Ministers wish to appeal against this decision, there is an appeal to the Court of Session on a point of law only. Any such appeal must be made within 42 days after the date of intimation of this decision.

Margaret Keyse
Head of Enforcement
28 June 2013

Appendix

Relevant statutory provisions

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

1 General entitlement

(1) A person who requests information from a Scottish public authority which holds it is entitled to be given it by the authority.

10 Time for compliance

(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), a Scottish public authority receiving a request which requires it to comply with section 1(1) must comply promptly; and in any event by not later than the twentieth working day after-

(a) in a case other than that mentioned in paragraph (b), the receipt by the authority of the request; or

21 Review by Scottish public authority

(1) Subject to subsection (2), a Scottish public authority receiving a requirement for review must (unless that requirement is withdrawn or is as mentioned in subsection (8)) comply promptly; and in any event by not later than the twentieth working day after receipt by it of the requirement.

 

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