Open main menu

ATTORNEY-GENERAL, the chief law officer appointed to manage all the legal affairs and suits in which the Crown is interested. He is appointed by patent, authorising him to hold office during the Queen's pleasure. He is ex officio the leader of the bar, and only counsel of the highest eminence are appointed to the office. The royal mandate of 14th December 1814 gives him precedence in all the courts, and it is now settled that in the House of Lords he has precedence of the Lord Advocate, even in Scotch appeals. He is a necessary party to all proceedings affecting the Crown, and has extensive powers of control in matters relating to charities, lunatics estates, criminal prosecutions, &c. His assistant, also appointed by patent, is the Solicitor-General, who has full power to act in the absence of his principal, and by almost invariable usage, succeeds to his office when it becomes vacant. The income attached to these offices has hitherto been derived in great part from fees on patents for inventions, but by a recent arrangement the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General receive a salary of £7000 and £6000 respectively, exclusive of such fees as they may receive for any litigious business they may conduct on behalf of the Crown.