- Establishment of the office of Solicitor General with supervisory powers over all litigation and arbitration matters.
- Conferring independence to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions with mandate over all criminal litigations.
- Law Officers and staff in Ministries, independent departments, executive agencies and local government authorities to be Law Officers and State Attorneys under the supervision of the Attorney General.
On 13th February 2018 the Government published the Office of the Attorney General (Re-structure) Order, 2018 (‘the Order’). This Order was published in GN No. 48 of 2018. The restructuring has been made with a view of enhancing and strengthening capacity to efficiently discharge duties under the office of the Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Solicitor General and Law Officers in Ministries, independent Government departments, agencies and Local Government Authorities. Prior to this Order, all civil and criminal litigations were under direct control of the Attorney General. A new office of the Solicitor General is established as a result of the restructuring. This office is charged with supervision of civil litigation and arbitration proceedings. It is important to note that all legal officers employed in public institutions are designated to be Law Officers and State Attorneys in their respective institutions.
The Litigation and Arbitration Department at Breakthrough Attorneys has taken note of the promulgated Restructuring Order and would like to notify the general public of the major features and changes made from the same.
2.0 Changes made as result of Restructuring
The following are notable changes resulting from the Order:
- Splitting off civil litigation and arbitration proceedings from the Office of the Attorney General.
- Placing civil litigation and arbitration proceedings under direct control of the Solicitor General. This is new establishment arising from the Restructuring Order.
- All criminal matters are under the supervision of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
- Non-litigant matters relating to the Constitution and human rights are under the direct superintendent of the Minister responsible for Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
- All legal officers appointed or employed in the Ministries, independent Government departments, agencies and Local Government Authorities are designated to be Law Officers and State Attorneys under the supervision of the Attorney General.
3.0 Functions of the Attorney General after Restructuring
Clause 4 of the Order provides for the functions of the office of the Attorney General after restructuring. These powers are provision of legal advisory services, legislative drafting, contracts and treaties and general supervision of Law Officers, State Attorneys and other staff in the office of the Attorney General, Ministries, independent Government departments, executive agencies and Local Government Authorities.
In contrast, this has seized the powers such as civil litigation, arbitration and criminal proceedings which were originally set for the Attorney General. On the other hand, the Attorney General has been vested with new supervisory powers over Law Officers in Ministries, independent Government departments, executive agencies and Local Government Authorities.
The restructuring is expected to attain the objectives listed under Clause 3 of the Order. It is expected to enhance efficiency and strengthening capacity of the office of the Attorney General, Solicitor General, Director of Public Prosecutions and Law Officers working in Ministries, independent departments, agencies and local government authorities. However, there are critiques from the general public that the Order has usurped the powers of the Attorney General over the Director of Public Prosecution. It is viewed that the Order places the two on the same level. This is considered as interference with legislative powers which placed supervisory role to the Attorney General over the Director of Public Prosecutions.
On the other hand, the restructuring will ensure that that the Government obtains best legal services ranging from advisory, drafting, litigation and arbitration. The litigation and arbitration department at Breakthrough Attorneys commends the initiative made by the Government towards enacting the Order. We believe the envisaged changes are for protection of public interests in ensuring that litigation risks are well managed.
This publication has been prepared for information only and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. No representation or warranty (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this publication, and, to the extent permitted by law, Breakthrough Attorneys, its members, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability, responsibility or duty of care for any consequences of you or anyone else acting, or refraining to act, in reliance on the information contained in this publication or for any decision based on it.