ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
he responsibilities of the Attorney General's Office (AGO) are defined in the Constitution itself: paragraph 1 of Article 30 states that the AGO is the adviser of the government in matters of law and legal opinion, whilst also exercising and performing all such powers, functions and duties as are conferred or imposed on it by the Constitution or by law.
The three main areas of activity are:
- legal advisory,
- parliamentary drafting (within the competence of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government),
- the state solicitor service.
Within the framework of legal counselling, the AGO advises the government and attends its meetings (even though the AG is not a member of the government, as stipulated by Article 30 (4) of the Irish Constitution, adopted 1 July 1937), advises on constitutional and legal matters arising at or prior to government sessions, and assists in the adoption of government decisions on all legislative proposals and other matters, including with regard to deciding whether the proposed legislation is in line with the Constitution, EU legislation and the contracts or other international agreements, signed by Ireland.
In addition, the AGO:
- advises whether the state should ratify an international agreement or convention,
- represents the state in all legal procedures in which the state of Ireland is involved,
- acts as a legal advisor to all government departments and certain public institutions,
- defends the constitutionality of laws before the Supreme Court.
Within the scope of its legislative responsibility, the AGO drafts government laws (including those containing proposals for the change of the Constitution) and ministerial laws, drafts or examines the drafts of legal matters that are within the power of the government (including legal instruments relating to the inclusion of the acquis communautaire into the Irish legislation).
The third function – the state solicitor service – is quite similar to the duties of our State Attorney General, as it is responsible for counselling, civil and criminal litigations on behalf of the state, the sale and purchase of property for the state, the preparation and implementation of all the procedures initiated by ministerial and government departments, whilst also being the government representative before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
The parliamentary draftsmen in the AGO are barristers and solicitors. The preparations for this profession (training in legal drafting) lasts on average from seven to ten years, which is perfectly understandable as the drafting of a legislative text encompasses five specially defined phases: understanding, analysis, form, composition and detailed examination. The first phases include the understanding of a measure to be drafted. The better the ministerial instructions, the faster a draftsman will be able to understand the subject of the proposal and the easier it will be to write something in clear and understandable language.
More information is available here.