Briefing relating to UK Government Free Trade Agreement: FOI release

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

Information requested

From 1 October 2020 to present: Copies of any briefings provided by civil servants on UK Government new Free Trade Agreements.


Attached is a copy of some of the information requested.

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 exemptions under section 28 (1) (Relations within the United Kingdom) and Section 30 (b) (i) (Prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why those exemptions apply are explained below. 

Exemptions under sections 28 (1) and 30 (b) (i) of FOISA apply to some of the information you have requested. Section 28 (1) concerns relations between the United Kingdom and applies to some of the information requested on the basis that this contains details of the UK Government’s approach to free trade agreement negotiations that has been provided in confidence. Its disclosure would be likely to prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish and UK Governments. This would likely affect future sharing of information on negotiations by the UK Government and the ability of the Scottish Government to represent Scottish interests in these negotiations. Section 30 (b) (i) concerns the effective conduct of public affairs. It is our judgement that disclosure would substantially inhibit the provision of free and frank advice on the progress and content of UK free trade agreements and their implications for Scotland. In the interests of good governance it is important that this advice goes beyond information contained in the public domain.

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 the UK Government’s negotiations on free trade agreements impact on people and businesses in Scotland and we acknowledge are a matter of topical interest. However, this is outweighed by the public interest in the Scottish Government being able to represent Scotland’s interests effectively in these negotiations, through having access to confidential information relating to the negotiations from the UK Government and being able to communicate advice on the progress and content of negotiations in a free and frank manner. In particular, if disclosure of this information provided by the UK Government negatively affected relations between the UK and Scottish Governments then this would likely inhibit the Scottish Government’s ability to represent Scottish interests, which would not be in the public interest.

About FOI
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI202000115718 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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