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Attorney General for England and Wales

From Academic Kids

Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales, usually known as the Attorney General, is the chief legal adviser of the Crown in England and Wales. He represents the Queen and the Government in court, and has supervisory powers over prosecutions, which are the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Crown Prosecution Service. The Attorney General also represents the Crown in many judicial proceedings relating to the public interest, e.g. the administration of charities and income tax. He is assisted by the Solicitor General: both offices are filled by political appointees who must belong to either house of Parliament. The Attorney General is not usually a member of the Cabinet, but is called to advise it when necessary.

There are separate legal advisors for the other jurisdictions of the United Kingdom: see Law Officers of the Crown.

The Attorney General and the Solicitor General, despite their titles (an attorney in the common law courts was the equivalent of a solicitor in the courts of equity), have historically been barristers and Queen's Counsel. However, Harriet Harman QC MP, who was Solicitor-General until May 2005, is a Solicitor. The Attorney General has precedence over all other barristers in the English Courts, and in the House of Lords has precedence over the Lord Advocate, even in Scottish cases. The Attorney General is addressed in court as "Mr Attorney".

As well as Her Majesty's Attorney General, there is also an Attorney General to the Prince of Wales and an Attorney General to the Duchy of Lancaster. When there is a Queen consort or dowager, she also has an Attorney General, as did the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The Attorney General currently also holds the office of Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

Attorneys General of England (and Wales), 1277-present

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