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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Cabinet Secretary meeting with Faculty of Advocates: FOI release

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

FOI reference: FOI/17/01475
Date received: 20 June 2017
Date responded: 17 July 2017

Information requested

  • Minutes from the meeting held between Michael Russell MSP and Gordon Jackson and Angela Graham on 15 March 2017

  • All correspondence before and after this meeting relating to the meeting.

Response

There were no minutes taken during this meeting. The material provided in our response is solely in response to the second part of your request.

Documents released

  • briefing for meeting on 15 March 2017
  • covering email – arbitration paper
  • Faculty of Advocates arbitration proposal
  • emails relating to meeting

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 of exemptions under sections s.30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation) and s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why these exemption(s) applies are explained in the Annex to this letter.

Some sections of the correspondence supplied in this response have been redacted as they are out with the scope of your request.

Reasons for not providing information

An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. This exemption recognises the need for Ministers and officials to have a private space within which to discuss and explore options before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of free and frank discussions on the operation of legal systems and processes following the UK exit from the European Union, will substantially inhibit such discussions in the future, particularly because these discussions are still ongoing.

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 a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to explore and refine the Government's position on the operation of legal systems and processes following the UK exit from the European Union, until the Government as a whole can adopt a policy that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space is essential to enable all options to be properly considered, so that good decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers and officials, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process, which would not be in the public interest.

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of third parties, i.e. names of specific individuals which would allow those individuals to be identified, and disclosing this information would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

briefing for meeting 15 March 2017.pdf

8 page PDF
272.3kB

covering email - arbitration paper.pdf

1 page PDF
20.4kB

Faculty of Advocates arbitration proposal.pdf

4 page PDF
133.9kB

emails related to meeting.pdf

6 page PDF
152.0kB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
20 Jul 2017
Cabinet Secretary meeting with Faculty of Advocates: FOI release