Attorney General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known as the attorney general, is one of the law officers of the Crown. The attorney general serves as the principal legal adviser to the Crown and the Government in England and Wales. The attorney general maintains the Attorney General's Office and currently attends Cabinet. The office is also concurrently held with that of Advocate General for Northern Ireland.
for England and Wales
|Attorney General's Office|
|Style||The Right Honourable|
|Reports to||Prime Minister of the United Kingdom |
Secretary of State for Justice
on advice of the Prime Minister
|First holder||William de Boneville|
|Deputy||Solicitor General for England and Wales|
|This article is part of the series: Courts of England and Wales|
|Law of England and Wales|
The position of attorney general has existed since at least 1243, when records show a professional attorney was hired to represent the King's interests in court. The position first took on a political role in 1461 when the holder of the office was summoned to the House of Lords to advise the government there on legal matters. In 1673, the attorney general officially became the Crown's adviser and representative in legal matters, although still specialising in litigation rather than advice. The beginning of the twentieth century saw a shift away from litigation and more towards legal advice. Today, prosecutions are carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service and most legal advice to government departments is provided by the Government Legal Service, both under the supervision of the attorney general.
The job of the Attorney General is highly demanding, and Sir Patrick Hastings wrote while serving that "to be a law officer is to be in hell". Duties include superintending the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office, and other government lawyers with the authority to prosecute cases. Additionally, the Attorney General superintends the Government Legal Department (formerly the Treasury Solicitor's Department), HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and the Service Prosecuting Authority. The Attorney General advises the government, individual government departments and individual government ministers on legal matters, answering questions in Parliament and bringing "unduly lenient" sentences and points of law to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. As per the passing of the Law Officers Act 1997, duties can be delegated to the Solicitor General, and any actions are treated as if they came from the Attorney General.