What Advisory Counsel do

The range of advisory work normally undertaken by the Office is very broad, including constitutional and administrative law, EU law, commercial law, public international law and criminal law - in fact, any legal issue on which the Government or a Department may require legal advice. The Office of the Attorney General (including the Chief State Solicitor's Office) is responsible for handling most civil litigation engaged in by the State. This involves actions in all Courts in the State, in the Court of Justice of the European Union and the General Court in Luxembourg, and before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. (In the latter case the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, not the Chief State Solicitor, acts as agent). The precise involvement of Advisory Counsel and the Attorney General himself is determined by the difficulty and importance of the case. The mechanism of this involvement is that the solicitor handling the case seeks directions from the Attorney General or his staff. Generally the Attorney General's Office is not involved in criminal matters which are dealt with by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Attorney General's Office is also not involved in the management of personal injury and property damage claims against the State which are the responsibility of the State Claims Agency.

The drafting of legislation in the Office of the Attorney General is undertaken by specialist Parliamentary Counsel, with Advisory Counsel having an important but essentially auxiliary role in the drafting process. The role of the Advisory Counsel is primarily to provide advice on the proposed legislative action, for example, on whether it might conflict with the provisions of the Constitution, acts and treaties of the European Union, the European Convention on Human Rights or other international treaties to which the State has acceded.