Advocate General for Scotland

Her Majesty's Advocate General for Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Àrd-neach-tagraidh na Bànrighe airson Alba) is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, whose duty it is to advise the Crown and Government of the United Kingdom on Scots law. The Office of the Advocate General for Scotland is a ministerial department of the United Kingdom government.[1] The position is currently held by Lord Stewart of Dirleton QC.

Office of the Advocate General for Scotland
Scottish Gaelic: Àrd-neach-tagraidh na Bànrighe airson Alba
Department overview
HeadquartersVictoria Quay, Edinburgh
Minister responsible
Department executive
  • Neil Taylor, Director and Solicitor to the Advocate General
WebsiteUnited Kingdom Government
Advocate General


The office of Advocate General for Scotland was created in 1999 by the Scotland Act 1998 to be the chief legal adviser to the United Kingdom Government on Scots Law. This function had previously been carried out by the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General for Scotland, who were transferred to the Scottish Government on the establishment of the Scottish Parliament. The office of the Advocate General for Scotland should not be confused with that of "Her Majesty's Advocate", which is the term used for the Lord Advocate in Scottish criminal proceedings.

List of Advocates General for Scotland

Advocate General for Scotland
Portrait Name
Term of office Party Ministry Ref.
The Right Honourable
Lynda Clark
Baroness Clark of Calton
[lower-alpha 1]
(born 1949)
19 May
18 January
Labour Blair I [2]
Blair II
The Right Honourable
Neil Davidson
Lord Davidson of Glen Clova

(born 1950)
21 March
11 May
Labour [3]
Blair III
The Right Honourable
Jim Wallace
Lord Wallace of Tankerness

(born 1954)
14 May
8 May
The Right Honourable
Richard Keen
Lord Keen of Elie

(born 1954)
29 May
16 September
Conservative Cameron II [5]
May I
May II
Johnson I
Johnson II
The Right Honourable
Keith Stewart
Lord Stewart of Dirleton

15 October
Incumbent [6][7][8]

The first holder of the office was Dr Lynda Clark, then Member of Parliament for Edinburgh Pentlands and from 2005 a member of the House of Lords as Baroness Clark of Calton. On 18 January 2006, Baroness Clark resigned to take up office as a Senator of the College of Justice, a judge of the Supreme Courts of Scotland.

The office was then vacant until 15 March of that year when, under section 87 of the Scotland Act 1998, its functions were temporarily conferred on the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alastair Darling MP, himself a Scottish advocate.[citation needed]

There had been substantial criticism from the judiciary and others of the length of time the office had been left vacant.[citation needed] On 21 March, however, it was announced Neil Davidson QC, former Solicitor General for Scotland, had been appointed Advocate General. He was created a life peer, as Lord Davidson of Glen Clova, on 22 March 2006.

On 14 May 2010, The Lord Wallace of Tankerness, a former Deputy First Minister of Scotland, was appointed by the coalition government.

Richard Keen QC was appointed Advocate General in David Cameron's majority government on 29 May 2015, and has retained the post through two subsequent Prime Ministers to 2020.[9] He was created a life peer, as Lord Keen of Elie, on 8 June 2015. He resigned on 16 September 2020 citing concerns arising from the UK Internal Market Bill, noting in his letter of resignation to Boris Johnson that he found it "increasingly difficult to reconcile what I consider to be my obligations as a Law Officer with your policy intentions".[10]

Keith Stewart QC was appointed to succeed Lord Keen on 15 October 2020.[11]


The Office has a staff of around 40.

All staff are on secondment or loan from other government organisations, mainly the Scottish Government and the Ministry of Justice.[12]

Offices of the Advocate General

  • Advocate General's Private Office, based in London
  • Legal Secretariat to the Advocate General (LSAG), based in London
    • Legal Secretary to the Advocate General
  • Office of the Advocate General (OAG), based in Edinburgh

See also


  1. MP for Edinburgh Pentlands until 2005; created Baroness Clark of Calton thereafter


  1. "List of Ministerial Responsibilities. Including Executive Agencies and Non-Ministerial Departments" (PDF). Cabinet Office. December 2013. p. 47. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 February 2014. Retrieved 21 September 2014.
  2. "Baroness Clark of Calton". UK Parliament. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  3. "Lord Davidson of Glen Clova". UK Parliament. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  4. "Lord Wallace of Tankerness". UK Parliament. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  5. "Lord Keen of Elie". UK Parliament. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  6. "Keith Stewart QC". GOV.UK. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  7. "Keith Stewart QC appointed Advocate General for Scotland". Holyrood Magazine. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  8. "Keith Stewart QC to be next Advocate General for Scotland". Scottish Legal News. 15 October 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  9. "Advocate General for Scotland appointed" (Press release). Government of the United Kingdom. 29 May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
  10. "Lord Keen: Senior law officer quits over Brexit bill row". BBC News. 16 September 2020.
  11. "UK government appoints QC as new Scots law chief". BBC News. 15 October 2020.
  12. "Organization chart" (PDF). Office of the Advocate General. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2011.