Review of Crown Law Office

28 Feb 2012

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson has welcomed the findings of a review of the scope and focus of the Solicitor-General's role and the operating model of Crown Law, released today.

The review, by Auckland barrister Miriam Dean QC and Simpson Grierson Special Counsel David Cochrane, was commissioned by Mr Finlayson in October last year. The role of the Solicitor-General had previously been looked at in 1986 and 2006.

"The review recognised the Crown Law Office and the Solicitor-General as its head have a critical role in ensuring consistency and quality of legal advice across Government," Mr Finlayson said. "The reviewers concluded that Crown Law remains the best placed agency to provide leadership of government legal services, and that its most important role as an advisor should be maintained and strengthened."

The review made a number of recommendations, including: 

  • The Solicitor-General should remain Chief Executive of the Crown Law Office as well as senior legal advisor and advocate for the Crown. Operational management functions should be separated out to the Deputy Chief Executive position, and there should be an assessment of organisational structure and reporting lines.
  • Crown Law's leadership role in government legal services should be strengthened, including the establishment of a dedicated prosecutions group comprising those staff involved in the conduct or oversight of prosecutions and appeals, and headed by a retitled Director of Public Prosecutions.
  • Crown Law should focus on maintaining and enhancing the high quality of its constitutionally important "Category 1" work (advising on the interpretation of criminal and taxation law, constitutional matters, and litigation involving the Crown) and monitoring the amount of "Category 2" work (transactional commercial work and matters for non-Departmental agencies) it takes on.

The review can be read here.