Estate Notices

FOI request reference: F0044880
Publication date: March 2016

Outcome: Unsuccessful

Request:

I am writing to enquire about the possibility of obtaining a dataset under FOI in relation to deceased estate notices, in particular those that were administered by National Westminster/Natwest. The information is available individually via search on the gazette website, however I am looking for all cases.

On the Gazette probate search facility, by searching separately on the terms ‘Natwest’ and ‘National Westminster’, it would appear there are over 8,500 cases. In my search there were 6546 results for National Westminster, and 2178 results for Natwest.

I would require the details as published on the gazette website ie, surname, first name(s), data of death, and last known address. I would prefer the list, with each detail in separate columns, in one Excel worksheet.

Response:

I can confirm that The National Archives (TNA) holds information relevant to your request.

The information you have requested has been made freely available for download as a dataset, in an electronic form capable of re-use, from the following website: https://www.thegazette.co.uk. Data re-use information and developer documentation is available on this page https://www.thegazette.co.uk/data. This page also contains information about licensing and copyright.

Under amendments made to the FOIA by section 102 (2)(a) of the Protections of Freedoms Act 2012, a public authority must only provide the information you have requested ‘so far as reasonably practicable.’ As this information is already available for download as a dataset, in an electronic format capable of re-use, this information is exempt from disclosure under section 21(1) of the FOIA. Under section 21(1) of the FOIA, if the information you have requested is reasonably accessible by other means, we do not have to provide it to you.

For further information about the Protection of Freedoms Act and section 21 of the FOIA please see the explanatory Annex at the end of this letter.

Although this exemption does not apply to historic information[1], you can access all deceased estate notices in The Gazette using the website we have provided to you and download this information as an electronic dataset capable of re-use. We have therefore provided you with access to all of the information you have requested in the format you have requested.

Further advice and Assistance

The Stationary Office also provides a paid data feed service. They can run a bespoke query for the requested data and export and convert it into an Excel format. The charge for this is £500 +VAT. The data feed service is also explained here: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/data

The data available from The Gazette is regularly updated. If you want to ensure your data is updated every time a new notice is published, you can create a search, save it, and then subscribe to an RSS feed that will update every time a new, relevant, notice is published. To save your searches, you would need to sign up to the My Gazette service: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/sign-in?redirectUrl=%2Fmy-gazette%2Faccount

Explanatory Annex

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

Section 102 – Release and publication of datasets held by public authorities

(1) The Freedom of Information Act 2000 is amended as follows

(2) In section 11 (means by which communication to be made)—

  • after subsection (1) insert—

“(1A) Where—

(a) an applicant makes a request for information to a public authority in respect of information that is, or forms part of, a dataset held by the public authority, and

(b) on making the request for information, the applicant expresses a preference for communication by means of the provision to the applicant of a copy of the information in electronic form, the public authority must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide the information to the applicant in an electronic form which is capable of re-use.”

Definition of a Dataset for FOI Purposes

For the purposes of FOI Section 102(c) of the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012) defines a dataset as:

In this Act “dataset” means information comprising a collection of information held in electronic form where all or most of the information in the collection—

  • has been obtained or recorded for the purpose of providing a public authority with information in connection with the provision of a service by the authority or the carrying out of any other function of the authority,
  • is factual information which—
  • is not the product of analysis or interpretation other than calculation, and
  • is not an official statistic (within the meaning given by section 6(1) of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007), and
  • remains presented in a way that (except for the purpose of forming part of the collection) has not been organised, adapted or otherwise materially altered since it was obtained or recorded.

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 can be found here:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/9/contents/enacted

Exemptions Applied

Section 21: Information readily available to the applicant by other means

Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) does not oblige a public authority to provide information if it is already reasonably accessible by other means.

In this case the exemption applies because the information is freely available on this website: https://www.thegazette.co.uk. From this website the data can be queried, downloaded as a dataset, in a format capable of re-use. Information about how to do this can be found here: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/data. The data is regularly updated and this page of the website also provides information about licenses and copyright.

Further guidance on Section 21 can be found at:

http://ico.org.uk/~/media/documents/library/Freedom_of_Information/Detailed_specialist_guides/information-reasonably-accessible-to-the-applicant-by-other-means-sec21.pdf

[1] For a definition of a historic record please use this link: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/3029/made