FOIA Section 27 Exemption

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Section 27: International Relations

Section 27 applies to the following two categories of information:

1. information whose disclosure would be likely to prejudice international relations. (The term "international relations" means relations between the UK and any other state, international organisation or court, or the interests of the UK abroad or the promotion or protection of those interests.)
2. confidential information obtained from another state, an international organisation or an international court.

Key points:

  • Departments should be alive to the need to consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in connection with the application of section 27
  • Section 27 is subject to a public interest balance.

Official Guidance

What the law says

27 International relations

(1) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—
(a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State,
(b) relations between the United Kingdom and any international organisation or international court,
(c) the interests of the United Kingdom abroad, or
(d) the promotion or protection by the United Kingdom of its interests abroad.
(2) Information is also exempt information if it is confidential information obtained from a State other than the United Kingdom or from an international organisation or international court.
(3) For the purposes of this section, any information obtained from a State, organisation or court is confidential at any time while the terms on which it was obtained require it to be held in confidence or while the circumstances in which it was obtained make it reasonable for the State, organisation or court to expect that it will be so held.
(4) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a)—
(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1), or
(b) would involve the disclosure of any information (whether or not already recorded) which is confidential information obtained from a State other than the United Kingdom or from an international organisation or international court.
(5) In this section—
  • “international court” means any international court which is not an international organisation and which is established—
(a)by a resolution of an international organisation of which the United Kingdom is a member, or
(b)by an international agreement to which the United Kingdom is a party;
  • “international organisation” means any international organisation whose members include any two or more States, or any organ of such an organisation;
  • “State” includes the government of any State and any organ of its government, and references to a State other than the United Kingdom include references to any territory outside the United Kingdom.

ICO Lines To Take

Relevant Lines to Take
  • LTT13 - Prejudice test - 05/01/2009
  • LTT136 - Nature of prejudice to international relations under s27(1) (and potentially applicable to Regulation 12(5)(a)) - 11/10/2008
  • LTT134 - Realistic expectation of confidentiality under s27(2) and (3) - 11/10/2008
  • LTT135 - Confidentiality and information "obtained from" under s27(2) - 11/10/2008
  • LTT64 - Neither confirm nor deny - 08/07/2007


Decision Notices

Complaints upheld / partly upheld (P) Complaints not upheld
  • FS50143102 - HM Treasury - 22/03/2010
  • FS50219758 - Home Office - 23/02/2010
  • FS50174841 - Department for Transport - 17/12/2009
  • FS50178276 - Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service - 10/12/2009
  • FS50160252(P) - Cabinet Office - 08/12/2009
  • FS50124442(P) - Cabinet Office - 05/03/2009
  • FS50150254(P) - Cabinet Office - 03/03/2009
  • FS50188322 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 03/03/2009
  • FS50158274 - Cabinet Office - 02/03/2009
  • FS50128406 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 23/02/2009
  • FS50178057 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 15/12/2008
  • FS50134744 - Cabinet Office - 27/05/2008
  • FS50093445 - Cabinet Office - 04/02/2008
  • FS50140872 - Cabinet Office - 02/01/2008
  • FS50086619(P) - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 26/03/2007
  • FS50080115 - Cabinet Office - 26/03/2007
  • FS50081576 - Department of Culture Arts and Leisure (NI) - 05/10/2006
  • FS50089369 - Cabinet Office - 31/03/2010
  • FS50086426 - Cabinet Office - 31/03/2010
  • FS50142134 - Northern Ireland Office - 30/03/2010
  • FS50194621 - Ministry of Defence - 04/02/2010
  • FS50202116 - HM Treasury - 14/12/2009
  • FS50184494 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 16/11/2009
  • FS50131984 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 20/10/2009
  • FS50137246 - Ministry of Defence - 15/10/2009
  • FS50229756 - Export Credits Guarantee Department - 17/09/2009
  • FS50202127 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 30/06/2009
  • FS50117066 - Cabinet Office - 15/06/2009
  • FS50170986 - Department for Culture, Media and Sport - 30/03/2009
  • FS50083726 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 05/03/2009
  • FS50159578 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 12/02/2009
  • FS50152941 - Department for Transport - 27/01/2009
  • FER0162453 - Cabinet Office - 15/12/2008
  • FER0081530 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 30/09/2008
  • FS50077719 - Cabinet Office - 21/07/2008
  • FS50102198 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 08/01/2008
  • FS50125539 - National Archives - 07/08/2007
  • FS50119364 - National Archives - 31/07/2007
  • FS50081575 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 23/07/2007
  • FS50111530 - National Archives - 04/07/2007
  • FS50086784 - Ministry of Defence - 04/04/2007
  • FS50070854 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 23/10/2006
  • FS50110720 - Department for Constitutional Affairs - 18/09/2006
  • FS50091810 - Information Commissioner - 18/09/2006
  • FS50075177 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 27/07/2006
  • FS50069110 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 26/07/2006
  • FER0071799 - UK Trade and Investment - 11/04/2006
  • FAC0069504 - Foreign and Commonwealth Office - 05/01/2006

Includes DNs up to: 26 April 2010



Equivalent exemptions in other countries


Freedom of Information Act 2000
Exemptions
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