Lord Advocate

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Her Majesty's Advocate, known as the Lord Advocate (Scottish Gaelic: Morair Tagraidh)is the chief legal adviser to the Scottish Executive and the Crown in Scotland for both civil and criminal matters that fall within the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament. He or she is the chief public prosecutor for Scotland and all prosecutions on indictment are nominally done in his or her name. The officeholder is one of the Great Officers of State of Scotland.


[edit] History

It is an ancient office dating back to at least 1483, when John Ross is mentioned as His Majesty's Advocate to King James III.

From 1707 to 1998 the Lord Advocate was the chief legal adviser of the United Kingdom Government and the Crown in Scotland for both civil and criminal matters until the passing of the Scotland Act 1998 which devolved most domestic affairs to the Scottish Parliament. The United Kingdom Government is now advised on Scots law by the Advocate General for Scotland.

Unlike the Attorney General for England and Wales, the Lord Advocate is not head of the Scottish bar: that position is held by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates.

[edit] Parliamentary and Government Role

Until devolution in 1999, all Lord Advocates were, by convention, members of the United Kingdom Government, although the post was not normally in the Cabinet. Since devolution, section 44 of the Scotland Act 1998 provides that the Lord Advocate is automatically a member of the Scottish Executive. The Lord Advocate attends the Scottish Cabinet.

Until devolution, all Lord Advocates were, by convention, members of either the House of Commons or the House of Lords to allow them to speak for the Government. Those who were not already Members of Parliament received a life peerage on appointment. Since devolution, section 27 of the Scotland Act 1998 permits the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland to attend and speak in the Scottish Parliament ex officio even if they are not Members of the Scottish Parliament.

[edit] Future Careers of Lord Advocates

Appointments as Senators of the College of Justice were formerly made on the nomination of the Lord Advocate. Every Lord Advocate between 1842 and 1967 has been appointed to the bench, either on demitting office or at a later date, and of the more recent former Lord Advocates all except Henry Stephen Wilson, Pete Fraser and Colin Boyd have been appointed to the bench. Many Lord Advocates in fact nominated themselves for appointment as Lord President of the Court of Session or as Lord Justice Clerk

[edit] Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is headed by Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland, and is the public prosecution service for Scotland. It also carries out functions which are broadly equivalent to the coroner in common law jurisdictions. Incorporated within the Crown Office is the Legal Secretariat to the Lord Advocate.

[edit] Lords Advocate

[edit] See also

[edit] Sources

The career path of recent Scottish law officers, Scots Law Times, 14 July 2006

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