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Law Dictionary Home Dictionary Definition attorney-general

Attorney-General, a great officer of state appointed by letters-patent, and the legal representative of the Crown in the Supreme Court. He is also ex-officio head of the bar for the time being. He exhibits informations, prosecutes for the Crown in criminal matters and in revenue causes, and used to grant fiats for writs of error until they were abolished by s. 20 of the (English) Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, His fiat or consent is required before certain proceedings or prosecutions can be commenced (see, e.g., (English) Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act, 1889, and Prevention of Corruption Act, 1906). In many cases also (see e.g., (English) Lunacy Act, 1890, s. 325; (English) Public Health Act, 1936, s. 298; (English) Public Health (Officers) Act, 1884; (English) Public Health (Members and Officers) Act, 1885; Official Secrets Act, 1911, s. 8), his consent is necessary before penalties can be recovered. His fiat is necessary for certain appeals to the House of Lords. See (English) Appellate Jurisdiction Act, 1876 (c. 59), s. 10. When the House of Lords sits in a committee of privileges, it is the duty of the Attorney-General to attend at the bar in a judicial capacity and report on the claim. As a law officer he can hear applications for and make grants of patents on appeal from the Comptroller, though in practice this work is more usually undertaken by the Solicitor-General (q.v.). See LETTERS-LATENT. The Attorney-General is almost invariably a member of the House of Commons, and is appointed on the advice of the Government, with which he goes out of office. He has charge in the 'House' of Government legal measures, and deals with legal questions there on behalf of the Government. Consult Termes de la Ley; Norton-Kyshe's Attorney-General and Solicitor-General of England; Mew's Digest, tit. 'Crown Office (Law Officers).' The Prince of Wales appoints his own Attorney-General.

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