legislation.gov.uk – Most and least popular published acts

FOI request reference: CAS-83970-Z6Q7H2
Publication date: March 2022


Hello, I am making a Freedom of Information request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 about the website legislation.gov.uk. Could you tell what the most viewed and least viewed acts are, up to the 20 most and least viewed acts. The acts being all acts, public general acts, acts of the devolved parliaments, etc… The metric for the viewership being the monthly viewing numbers, yet can you include alongside the total viewership since the act was added to the website.


Some information provided.


Software used by The National Archives is currently limited to generating statistics over a period of no longer than one year. We have attached a list of legislation using usage statistics from 1 March 2021 to 28 February 2022 regarding the 6000 most popular primary, secondary and EU pieces of legislation on legislation.gov.uk for your information. These statistics inform The National Archives of a) the page views – each individual time a page on legislation.gov.uk is loaded/opened – and b) the users – a distinct human individual, determined by the client IP address, namely a unique address that identifies a device on the internet – which legislation pieces receive. We do not hold information on the total viewership for each individual act since they were added to the website.

We are unable to provide you with information you have requested with regards to the least popular pieces of legislation viewed on legislation.gov.uk because it is covered by the exemption at section 12 of the FOI Act, which exempts information if cost of dealing with them would exceed an appropriate limit, which for central government departments like The National Archives, is set at £600. For further information about why this exemption has been applied, please see the explanatory annex at the end of this email.


Exemptions applied:

Section 12: Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit
Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed an appropriate limit, which for central government departments like The National Archives, is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending just over three working days determining whether the department holds the information, as well as locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

Our software, which generates statistics regarding the traffic on legislation.gov.uk, only allows us to view legislation which has been viewed at least once over a period of one year, in this case from March 2021 – February 2022. With regards to the least popular pieces of legislation on legislation.gov.uk, it is most likely that there will be pieces on the service which have never been viewed. Furthermore, when considering usage statistics for legislation which has only received a minimal number of views (i.e. one view in the course of a year), the statistics have a high risk of being unreliable. Statistics for the least popular legislation would also include a high number of “false positives” (e.g. searches for legislation which is not available on the website). Given the number of documents held on legislation.gov.uk, we estimate that to manually search legislation which has never been viewed, filter out “false positive” results, and ensure the statistics are accurate, will take us in excess of three working days as the scope of your request is so wide-ranging. Therefore, this part of your request will not be processed further.

You may wish to consider refining your request, however please note that we are unable to guarantee that any refined requests would fall within the cost limit.

Further guidance on the application of this exemption can be found at: https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1199/costs_of_compliance_exceeds_appropriate_limit.pdf.