Changing civil partnerships to marriages in Scotland 2014-2016: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/01312
Date received: 13 June 2017
Date responded: 17 July 2017

Information requested

Between 2014-2016, information concerning communications between, on the one hand: Marco Biagi as minister for local government and community empowerment (and his office) and on the other hand:

  1. Arlene Foster and/or the Northern Ireland executive about "switching" Northern Ireland civil partnerships into Scottish marriages;

  2. the British government about "switching" civil partnerships from England and Wales into Scottish marriages.


By way of background, section 8 of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 made provision so that civil partners in a partnership registered in Scotland can, if they wish, change their relationship to marriage in Scotland. Section 9 of the 2014 Act gives a power to the Scottish Ministers to make a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) so that couples in a civil partnership registered outside of Scotland can also, if they wish, change their relationship to marriage in Scotland.

The Scottish Ministers have made an SSI under section 9.

The Scottish Government has also issued guidance (see NRS website - PDF 31kb) to couples considering changing their civil partnership registered outside of Scotland to a marriage in Scotland:

Before making the SSI, the Scottish Government issued a consultation on a draft order on changing civil partnerships registered outwith Scotland into marriage in Scotland. The consultation follows an earlier discussion paper.

Documents released

  • Due to the file size of the documents released, copies can be provided on request by emailing, quoting the FOI reference number FOI/17/01312.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 36(1) (confidentiality) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under section 36(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This relates to requesting and obtaining legal advice.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is some public interest in release because of the general benefits of transparency. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in requests by Scottish Government officials for legal advice and the advice to be kept confidential.

About FOI

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Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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