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Chief Ombudsman’s new guide on frivolous and vexatious OIA requests

22 June 2018

The Chief Ombudsman has published a guide on frivolous, vexatious and trivial requests under the Official Information Act 1982 and the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987.

Under sections 18(h) and 17(h) of these Acts, a request can be refused if it is frivolous or vexatious, or the information is trivial.

The Chief Ombudsman says there is a lot of confusion about what "frivolous or vexatious" means.

"There is a high threshold for declaring a request frivolous or vexatious. Requesters should not be unfairly denied the opportunity to make genuine requests. However, section 18(h) provides a necessary ability for agencies to refuse requests that would amount to an abuse of the right to access official information."

The guide sets out the factors that agencies should consider in deciding whether a request amounts to an abuse of the right to access official information.

It has advice for agencies on how to make the decision to refuse a request as frivolous or vexatious, and how to deal with challenging requesters. It includes a step-by-step work sheet for dealing with potentially frivolous or vexatious requests, template letters and case studies.

Last updated on the 16th September 2019