The Attorney General (AG) is the government’s chief law officer and legal adviser.
The Attorney General’s Office is a government legal department, led by the AG and the Solicitor General (the Law Officers), which provides legal advice to the government and oversees four other departments:
- the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
- the Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
- Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate
- the Government Legal Department
The AG may initiate and appear for the government in legal proceedings, and may grant the necessary consent (an Attorney General’s fiat) to the commencement of proceedings by others. The AG is also responsible for
- referring unduly lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal
- bringing proceedings for contempt of court
- intervening in certain proceedings to protect charities
- dealing with questions of law arising on government Bills
The Attorney General also holds the separate office of Advocate General for Northern Ireland. The Advocate General for Scotland has specific responsibility for Scottish law matters.