Section 43 - Power to Authorize a Public Body to Disregard Requests

Overview

Section 43 allows the head of a public body to ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner to authorize the public body to disregard a request made under section 5 or section 29. The Commissioner may give such authorization only if the request is repetitious or systematic in nature and unreasonably interferes with the operation of the public body.

Section Reference

Section 43 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

If the head of a public body asks, the commissioner may authorize the public body to disregard requests under section 5 or section 29 that

  1. would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the public body because of the repetitious or systematic nature of the requests, or
  2. are frivolous or vexatious.

Summary

This section grants the Commissioner the power to authorize a public body to disregard requests, if the requests are repetitious or systematic in nature and interfere unreasonably with public body operations, or if the requests are frivolous or vexatious.  This applies to both requests for access to information and requests for correction of personal information.

Policy

  1. Representations to the Commissioner for authorization to disregard requests under section 43 must relate to requests that are repetitious, systematic or frivolous, or vexatious.

Procedure

  1. The head of the public body will make a written request for authorization under section 43 to the Commissioner. The standard practice of the Commissioner is to provide a copy of the head of the public body’s request for authorization to the person(s) affected by the public body’s request.
  2. When applying to the Commissioner for section 43 authorization, the head of the public body will make their request in writing and consider the following factors:
    • evidence that the public body has exercised considerable restraint and made every effort to assist the applicant under section 6;
    • an explanation of the repetitious or systematic nature of the requests in question, as evidenced by the number of requests received, frequency and/or repetition;
    • an explanation and evidence of how the requests have unreasonably interfered with the operation of the public body, including staff and resource allocation to the requests;
    • the applicant is using the Act as a weapon of information warfare, retaliation for past action or tool for harassment;
    • the public body’s response to an applicant has led to additional requests for more records and information related to the same topic;
    • the applicant is not using the Act for purposes for which it was intended and the applicant is not acting in good faith;
    • the request is not being made to obtain information or achieve a legitimate correction of information, but rather to tie up the resources of the public body or frustrate the administration of a particular program or activity;
    • the request has no sound basis in fact or is malicious;
    • the applicant is making unreasonable demands on the staff of the public body to process requests;
    • specific evidence that the applicant has generated requests that were submitted under a variety of names;
    • the applicant’s own statements which demonstrate his or her intentions;
    • the outcome in a different tribunal or court regarding the same subject matter.

Interpretation

"repetitious" repeating or being repeated; copy, replica; saying by heart, piece to be said so. Oxford Dictionary, 9th edition defines as characterized by repetition (repeating or being repeated) esp. when unnecessary or tiresome.

"systematic" methodical; arranged, conducted, according to system; deliberate.

"frivolous" lacking a legal basis or legal merit; not serious; not reasonably purposeful.

"vexatious" without reasonable or probable cause or excuse; harassing; annoying.

Examples

  • Continual requests for records that a public body has already established it does not have.
  • An applicant continues to apply repeatedly for the same or similar information even though the original request has been disposed of and there is nothing new or different in the responsive records.
  • An applicant makes a large number of the same or similar requests.
  • Requests that show an intention to harass a public body, to "break" the system or to engage in "information warfare".

Sectional Index of Commissioner's Orders

For orders organized by the Act's section numbers, Click here.

For a summary of Commissioner's orders and policy interpretation of key points, Click here.

Last updated: July 25, 2007