This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Guidance on ISDS trade deal clauses given to Prime Minister, Cabinet, DIT, or UK Government'.

Attorney General’s Office 
020 7271 2492 
5-8 The Sanctuary 
Tom Woodhead 
by email only 
14 March 2019 
Dear Mr Woodhead, 
Freedom of Information request: FOI/48/19 
I am writing in response to the Freedom of Information requests you submitted to this office by 
separate email and dated 23 February 2019, which are copied in bold below: 
Please can you outline the number of instances, and to whom, you have provided legal 
advice to about ISDS trade deal clauses in the past 5 years. 
Please can you provide the guidance you have given to the UK Prime Minister, Cabinet 
Office, DIT, or UK Government in relation to ISDS trade deal clauses in the past 5 years. 
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI Act) gives individuals and organisations the right of 
access to all types of recorded information held, at the time the request is received, by public 
authorities such as the Attorney General's Office (AGO). 
Section 1 of the FOI Act places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the 
first duty (contained in section 1(1)(a)) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in 
a request is held. If confirmed, the second duty (contained in section 1(1)(b)) is, unless one or 
more of the exemptions contained in Part II of the FOI Act applies, to disclose the information 
that has been confirmed as being held. 
Section 35(1)(c) of the FOI Act provides that information is exempt information if it relates to the 
provision of advice by any of the Law Officers or any request for the provision of such advice. 
Section 35(3) and section 2(1)(b) together provide that the duty to confirm or deny does not 
arise in respect of information which is exempt (or would be exempt) under section 35(1) if the 
public interest in maintaining the exclusion of the duty to confirm or deny outweighs the public 
interest in disclosing whether or not this department holds the information. 
We take the view that your requests falls within the terms of this exemption. Whether or not the 
Attorney General issued legal advice to the government on matters regarding ISDS trade deal 
clauses relates to his function as a Law Officer and chief legal adviser to the Government.  
We also take the view that the public interest is not in favour of confirming or denying whether 
he did so. It would undermine the long-standing Convention, observed by successive 
Governments, that information about the seeking, preparation or content of advice relating to 
the Law Officers’ advisory function is not disclosed outside Government. This Convention is 
recognised in paragraph 2.13 of the Ministerial Code. 
The Law Officers’ Convention protects fully informed decision making by allowing Government 
to seek, and Law Officers to prepare, legal advice in private, without fear of any adverse 

inferences being drawn from either the content of the advice or the fact that it was sought. It 
ensures that Government is neither discouraged from seeking advice in appropriate cases, nor 
pressured to seek advice in inappropriate cases. It is also important to note that Law Officer 
advice is different from other legal advice within Government, not in its fundamental 
underpinnings, but because it may be sought in relation to issues of particular complexity, 
sensitivity and constitutional importance. It is of obvious pressing importance that the seeking of 
and provision of legal advice in such circumstances should be facilitated and protected in the 
public interest. While recognising that there is a public interest in citizens knowing whether 
matters have been considered with the benefit of sound legal advice, in the circumstances of 
this case, this public interest does not outweigh the strong public interest in maintaining the 
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal 
review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of 
the response to your original letter and should be addressed to the above address. 
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications. 
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly 
to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be 
contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, 
Cheshire, SK9 5AF. 
Yours sincerely 
FOI Officer  
D +44 (0)20 7271 2492