Statement of policy in relation to the briefing of Counsel
The Attorney General briefs counsel to give legal advice and to appear on behalf of State parties in litigation.
The Attorney General is subject to the provisions of s. 7 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1974 which provides:
"The Attorney General shall ensure that barristers briefed by him in his official capacity.....are chosen, from amongst those barristers who have indicated their willingness to so act or advise, in such manner as to effect a distribution of such retainers amongst them that, in the opinion of the Attorney General, is fair and equitable taking one year with another, having regard to their suitability in relation to any particular retainer, to the public interest and to the distribution of retainers under subsection (2) of this section."
The Official Languages Act 2003 places an obligation on the State, where it is a party to civil proceedings before a court, to use the official language chosen by the other party.
The Attorney General invites counsel who wish to indicate willingness to be briefed by him to submit their details using the Application Form for Nomination of Counsel. The Attorney General has a policy of distributing briefs among a wide number of barristers. Counsel are briefed on the basis of the requirements of s. 7 of the Prosecution of Offences Act, 1974.
The Attorney General will consider all forms submitted annually having regard to the provisions of s.7 of the Act of 1974. An indication of willingness to be briefed does not, of itself, guarantee inclusion on an Attorney General's panel or guarantee that counsel will be briefed by the Attorney General.
Prior to the annual review of panels the Attorney General will consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions and have regard to his or her distribution of briefs.
Where a Counsel for maternity/paternity/adoption reasons, or other personal reasons, wishes to take a period of time out from receiving briefs they should write to the Attorney General's private office indicating the date after which they will be in a position to resume work. Counsel will be fully accommodated in this regard.
In discharging his obligation to the public interest, the Attorney General takes account of the following:
Quality of Service
Counsel who are instructed by the Attorney General are required to do work of public importance. The outcome of State litigation may have a major impact on the common good and on the taxpayer. The public interest, therefore, demands that counsel of high calibre be briefed and that the skills and experience individual counsel can offer are suitable to the brief.
The Attorney General briefs counsel without regard to gender, sexual orientation, race, disability, age, religious belief, marital/family status or membership of the Traveller community.
In some areas of work, the public interest requires a high degree of specialisation on the part of advocates and advisers acting for the State.
Accordingly, to provide guidance when nominating Counsel, the Attorney General has established panels of counsel for some areas of State practice. Counsel on these panels either already have or will develop expertise in the relevant area of practice. Counsel wishing to be placed on a particular panel or panels should state, when indicating their willingness to be briefed, their relevant skills and experience. Membership of a panel does not guarantee that Counsel will be briefed.
Value for Money
The Attorney General's policy in briefing counsel is to ensure that counsel are briefed who will provide a service of high quality which gives value for money.