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Each entry provides background and context about an exemption to the public records laws in all fifty states, as well as federal FOIA. Read more about Illinois's public records law or explore all our expert FOIA guides. Have a public records appeal or information on an exemption we should include? Consider sharing your knowledge with everyone by donating your FOIA appeal language.

ILCS 140/3 (g)

Also known as Unduly burdensome.

Thank you to Dillon Bergin for contributing to this entry. This guide is for informational purposes only, is general in nature, and is not legal opinion nor legal advice regarding any specific issue or factual circumstance.

If there is no way to narrow a request and the burden on the agency outweighs the public interest, a request can be rejected for being “unduly burdensome.”

Example Appeals

This is an appeal under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. My original request was sent to the [agency] on [Date], and I received an acknowledgement of my request on [date]. I requested emails that contained five unique key-strings and were sent to or received by [name], over the course of four months.

On [date], I received a rejection of this request from the agency. Along with the rejection, I received [share released information]. However, the village argued that a subsequent legal review of the emails imposed “an additional strain on the Village’s resources” and thus, they deemed providing the email themselves unduly burdensome.

I inquired both through email and over the phone to better understand why the content of nine emails were categorized as “unduly burdensome,” but the Village’s FOIA Officer reiterated only what was written in their rejection: that the request would be “an additional strain on the Village’s resources.” The Village did not estimate the number of pages responsive to this request nor the time it would take to review and redact the records. Lastly, they did not contact me to narrow or reduce the requests before the rejection.

Pursuant to ILCS 140/3 (g), Public Bodies are required to take such steps, and this has been highlighted in decisions like Public Access Opinion 23-007 and 18-013.

I would like to note that the subject of the request relates to [describe public interest in records]. We assert that the records are clearly in the public interest and this outweighs any limited burden on the public body in providing the emails we requested.

Thank you for your consideration of this appeal.

My best,


Proper Use

According to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, a rejection based on this exemption can only happen after the agency has conferred with the requester and attempted to narrow the request. The agency must also specify the reasons why the request is burdensome and how it will affect the operations of the agency to fulfill the request.

Improper Use

If the agency does not discuss narrowing the request with the requester, provide information on the responsive records, or how fulfilling the request would be unduly burdensome, they haven’t followed this exemption’s prerequisites.