Guide to the Government Legal Service (GLS) Organisations
This guidance was withdrawn on
Withdrawn following refinition of GLS model
Lawyers in the Government Legal Service provide legal advice to the government and represent it in court proceedings.
About the Government Legal Service
The Government Legal Service (GLS) consists of around 2000 qualified lawyers and legal trainees providing legal services to a wide range of Government organisations.
The single largest provider of legal services to government is the Government Legal Department. The GLD provides advisory services to 11 Whitehall departments (including Home Office, Ministry of Justice, HM Treasury, Cabinet Office and the Departments for Education and Transport to name but a few) as well as most of the Government’s litigation and employment law services, along with a specialist Commercial Law Group and European law division.
There are also in-house legal teams employed in, for example, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), as well as a range of smaller organisations and regulatory bodies such as Ofgem, the Law Commission and DVLA.
All GLS jobs are open to both solicitors and barristers.
The Treasury Solicitor is appointed by the Head of the Home Civil Service to be the Head of the Government Legal Service (GLS). The Treasury Solicitor’s role is to supervise its well-being and to provide it with a degree of direction and overall coordination. The Treasury Solicitor is supported in this role by the GLS Secretariat.
The GLS does not include all government lawyers. Other organisations such as the Crown Prosecution Service, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Land Registry, Parliamentary Counsel, and the Scottish and Northern Ireland legal teams, employ lawyers who are organisationally separate from the GLS. These legal teams are, however, kept in touch through participation in various GLS networks and groups.Most also have access to the GLS’ extranet site which enables them to keep in touch with developments and opportunities (training and jobs) and to share legal knowledge and practice.
Attorney General’s Office
The Attorney General and the Solicitor General (with the Advocate General for Scotland) are known as the Law Officers. They are Ministers of the Crown and sit in one or other House of Parliament.
The Law Officers are the chief legal advisers to government. In that capacity they are consulted on the most sensitive or difficult legal issues facing the government, including issues of international and EU law. They deal with questions of law arising on government Bills and with issues of legal policy. They also have oversight of major international and domestic litigation involving the Government. The Attorney General has Ministerial responsibility for the Government Legal Department (GLD) and oversight of the wider Government Legal Service (GLS).
The Attorney General has statutory responsibility for superintending the main prosecuting authorities in England and Wales – the Crown Prosecution Service (headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions) and the Serious Fraud Office. The Attorney also exercises non-statutory oversight of the Service Prosecuting Authority and prosecutors in other government departments. In addition the Attorney General has Ministerial responsibility for HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.
The Attorney General has, with the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Justice, a shared responsibility for the development of criminal justice policy. This role in particular reflects the Attorney’s responsibility for the prosecuting authorities and their important place in the criminal justice system.
The Law Officers have a number of common law and statutory responsibilities which they discharge independently of government as “guardians of the public interest”. These include referring unduly lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal; applying for orders under the Supreme Court Act 1981 to declare persons vexatious litigants; intervening in certain proceedings to protect the interests of charities; and bringing proceedings for contempt of court.
The Attorney General also holds the separate office of Advocate General for Northern Ireland with a consultative relationship with the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland and a number of responsibilities in respect of Assembly Bills, devolution issues and other matters as set out in Schedule 7 to the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002.
Work of the Legal Team
The Attorney General and Solicitor General are supported in all their functions by a small department, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO). AGO is led by its director general and comprises teams of civil and criminal lawyers (about 15 in all), as well as policy and administrative support staff. AGO lawyers provide legal advice and support to the Law Officers in connection with their legal, prosecutorial and public interest functions, including casework. In that capacity they handle some of the most difficult and sensitive legal issues affecting the government. The lawyers also work closely with policy officials to support the Law Officers in their criminal justice and other work. They maintain close liaison with lawyers elsewhere in the GLS and in the prosecuting authorities.
Most AGO staff are on loan for varying periods of time from other government departments, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For this reason AGO does not directly recruit lawyers.
For further information, please visit the Attorney General’s Office website.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is at the heart of the government’s commitment to work together to implement policies that help to restructure and revive the economy.
BIS ensures that its policies supporting enterprise, higher education, research and innovation, skills, apprenticeships, open markets and better regulation work together to support growth across the UK. BIS works across government, through its partner organisations and with the private sector to build a more dynamic and competitive economy. Industrial strategy is a strategic partnership with business and to create long-term, sustainable growth and high value jobs throughout the UK.
Work of the Legal Team
BIS Legal Services provides the legal advice the department needs on domestic, EU and international law, and plays an important role when the department legislates whether by primary or secondary legislation. In additional, the Legal Services team also plays a vital role in protecting businesses and increasing consumer confidence.
The Criminal Enforcement teams investigate and prosecute criminal breaches of the Insolvency and Companies regimes and other departmental legislation, ranging from bankruptcy offences and rogue traders to serious and complex fraudulent trading. Across the country, the increased publicity given to successful prosecutions, which secure significant sentences of imprisonment, disqualification and the confiscation of the proceeds of crime, has raised the BIS profile as a prosecuting authority and continues to act as a deterrent to others.
The work is intellectually demanding and involves a broad range of government legal skills:
- drafting statutory instruments and other legal documents
- advising on the interpretation of existing legislation
- instructing Parliamentary Counsel on new primary legislation
- advising on the implementation of EU law
- taking part in international negotiations especially on EU matters
- investigating and prosecuting companies and individuals.
Lawyers in the advisory teams in the Legal Services Group advise BIS Ministers and officials on English, EU and international law that impacts on the department’s work. This involves a wide range of subject areas including public law; companies; competition, monopolies and mergers; consumer protection; employment; export control; higher and further education; information law; insolvency; intellectual property; postal services, telecommunications and e-commerce; procurement and contracts; science and innovation; state aids, national and regional industrial assistance.
Lawyers on the criminal enforcement side are responsible for advising on the exercise of the Secretary of State’s powers of investigation under the Companies Acts, and for the investigation and prosecution of offences on behalf of the Secretary of State under the Insolvency and Companies regimes, including bankruptcy offences and fraudulent trading. Further information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/policy-teams/bis-criminal-enforcement-team
For further information, please visit the BIS website.
The Charity Commission is established by law as the independent regulator for charities in England and Wales. The Commission fulfils its regulatory role by furthering its statutory objectives to raise awareness of the public’s trust and confidence in charitable activity by:
- increasing public trust and confidence in charity
- promoting awareness and understanding of the operation of the public benefit requirement
- promoting compliance by trustees with their legal obligations
- promoting the effective use of charitable resources
- enhancing the accountability of charities to donors, beneficiaries and the public.
- The Commission carries out its work by:
- maintaining a public register of charities
- making schemes and orders for charities
- providing general and specific advice to encourage the better administration of charities to enable trustees to carry out their
- duties and responsibilities
- identifying and investigating mismanagement and misconduct in charities and taking remedial action
- providing information about charities.
Work of the Legal Team
All charities work within a complex legal, accounting and governance framework. The source of the framework is a combination of statute and common law. Understanding the complete legal framework requires not only charity law knowledge but a wide range of legal skills from trust and company law to human rights, from contract to disclosure.
Unusually for a regulator, the Commission has quasi-judicial functions, and may, regarding a number of its powers, exercise the same jurisdiction and powers as are exercisable by the High Court. In addition the Commission has administrative and inquiry powers which it exercises in accordance with its principles of regulation. The Division’s input is integral to ensure that all these powers are exercised inter vires and proportionately.
The Division’s fourteen legal advisers provide specialist legal services to the Commission’s four sites in London, Liverpool, Taunton and Newport.
All legal advisers undertake legally complex operational, policy and litigation casework. The Division also provides a legal advisory service to the Board on issues including Freedom of Information, data protection and procurement; it also plays an active part in the administrative and strategic development of the organisation. Legal advisers hold senior roles within the organisational structure; their responsibilities include the provision of internal training, and participation in project boards and recruitment boards. The Division aims to maintain and develop legal expertise in charity law and practice; act as legal resource for the Commission; and contribute to the development of relevant law and policy.
For further information visit the Charity Commission website.
Department of Energy and Climate Change
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is responsible for all aspects of UK energy and climate change policy.
Our purpose is to head off two risks – a shortfall in secure, affordable energy supplies and catastrophic climate change.
Our mission is therefore to power the country and protect the planet. We are an economic department and are important to the delivery of the government’s growth policy.
DECC is an exciting and dynamic place to work. Our objectives are to:
- save energy with the Green Deal and support vulnerable consumers;
- create secure energy on the way to a low carbon energy future;
- inspire ambitious action on climate change at home and abroad;
- manage our energy legacy responsibly and cost effectively.
Our vision for 2050 is for the UK to have made a safe and secure transition to a low-carbon economy. To achieve this our priorities are:
- low carbon power generation, particularly through renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels with CCS;
- low-carbon industry;
- low-carbon buildings;
- low-carbon transport;
while making the best use of our oil and gas reserves, and safely and cost-effectively addressing our nuclear and coal mining legacies.
We aim to do this in a way that:
- minimises costs, distributing them fairly, particularly for those in fuel poverty;
- maximises benefits – new investment, new industries, new jobs, and protection from fossil fuel price spikes; and
- supports a global transition to low-carbon development.
During this transition, we will make the best use of our oil and gas reserves, and address our coal mining and nuclear legacies, safely and cost-effectively decommissioning and cleaning up existing civil nuclear facilities.
Work of DECC Legal
DECC Legal has a complement of around 55 lawyers and is based in the Department’s HQ offices in Whitehall Place, in the heart of Whitehall. We are organised into seven flexible teams, and work closely with ministers and policy officials in the department and across Whitehall.
The policy and political environment is fast-moving, and DECC has a major legislative and regulatory portfolio. DECC’s lawyers need to ensure that the department receives high quality advisory legal services to support the full range of its activities. It needs powerful support in taking decisions, often controversial, and in defending challenges to them. It needs increasing support in its commercial and contract work. Recent areas of work include:
- emissions trading
- energy efficiency
- smart grids and smart meters
- the renewable heat incentive
- fuel poverty
- carbon budgets and carbon reduction
- the Green Deal including Green Deal finance
- gas/electricity transmission reform, both nationally and internationally
- electricity market reform (including the issuing of contracts for difference to low carbon generators, and the establishment of a Capacity Market to ensure security of electricity supply)
- content of the strategy & policy statement identifying the outcomes to be achieved in implementing energy policy
- oil, gas and coal
- unconventional oil and gas
- carbon capture and storage
- facilitating new renewable and nuclear development
- nuclear security and liabilities
- radioactive waste
- emergency planning
- international climate change negotiations
- international energy treaties
- international climate finance
- managing the UK’s energy legacy
- EU initiatives including on energy efficiency, renewable and low carbon energy, and on environmental protection and energy infrastructure
- the EU Third Energy Package
- national infrastructure consents
- ensuring the integrity of wholesale energy markets
- corporate and commercial matters.
- Oil, gas and coal
For further information, please visit the DECC website.
Food Standards Agency
The Food Standards Agency is a non-Ministerial Government Department led by a Board. It came into being on 1 April 2000 and its main objective, set out in section 1 of the Food Standards Act 1999, is to protect public health from risks which may arise in connection with the consumption of food and otherwise to protect the interests of consumers in relation to food. It was created to overcome the perceived conflict faced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in balancing the interests of the food industry on the one hand and consumers on the other. The handling of the BSE crisis was one of the reasons behind the setting up of the Agency.
The independence of the Agency is enhanced by its power to publish information, including the advice it gives to Ministers. Openness is one of its core values.
The Agency is a UK-wide body operating within a field of devolved competence. What this means is that legislative powers and certain other functions in relation to food safety exercised by Health Ministers in England are exercisable by the relevant ministers or other appropriate authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Agency’s remit covers both food (“from farm to fork”) and animal feeding stuffs. Much of the subject matter is topical and often controversial.
Work of the Legal Team
Our small team of lawyers provides in-house legal services to the Food Standards Agency. We also provide drafting and advisory services in respect of those functions, in particular legislative, that reside with Health Ministers. The work is demanding and much of it EC driven. We are routinely engaged in:
- drafting Statutory Instruments
- advising on the interpretation of existing legislation
- advising on the negotiation and implementation of EC law
- advising on the enforcement of food law
- general public law issues.
Some legal work (mainly debt recovery and employment law) is outsourced. Advice to the devolved authorities is dealt with by government lawyers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
For further information, please visit the Food Standards Agency website.
Government Legal Department
Following a series of mergers with other government legal teams, the Government Legal Department (GLD), with around 1700 legal fee earners, currently provides legal advisory services to 11 Whitehall departments and undertakes almost all litigation on behalf of government.
The GLD has a number of cross-government teams providing specialist litigation employment, commercial, procurement and EU law services.
The Treasury Solicitor, Jonathan Jones, in addition to being Head of the GLD, is also Head of the Government Legal Service.
The Litigation Group provides civil litigation services to the majority of government departments and public bodies, and its work often raises questions of constitutional importance. The Group is organised into three divisions which focus on different types of litigation work; public law; private law; and public inquiries. In 2012/13, the Group handled over 36,400 cases with its lawyers and trainees attending hearings in a wide range of courts, including Coroners’ Courts, the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and the Supreme Court.
The Employment Group, which embraces both advisory and litigation work, is now one of the largest employment law practices in the country. GLD’s employment lawyers are required to act for Departments of State and public bodies in cases brought before the Employment Tribunal, the County Court, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and beyond.
GLD also advises on non-contentious matters, such as employment policies and practices and compliance with new legislation and they seek to provide their clients with training and information to help prevent employment problems in the future.
The department currently provides legal advice to HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, Department for Education, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Home Office, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Department for Work and Pensions, Department of Health, Department for Transport, Department for Communities and Local Government and the Health & Safety Executive. In addition to legal advice, other legal services are provided to other government departments and public bodies.
European Union law has a bearing on virtually every aspect of our work, and ourl lawyers are closely involved in changes and developments within the EU. GLD involvement in EU law embraces almost every area - from negotiating EU measures in Brussels to drafting statutory instruments to implement EU directives, and from advising on the implications of EU law for domestic policy to preparing cases which go before the European Court of Justice.
Acting on behalf of the Crown, the Bona Vacantia Division identifies, collects and disposes of assets formally owned by dissolved companies; and assets formally owned by people who die without a valid Will and without blood relatives entitled to inherit their estates. This involves handling over 25,000 new cases and over £55 million of receipts each year. The income goes to our client, HM Treasury, to benefit the country as a whole.
The Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office Legal Advisers is a directorate of the Government Legal Department.
The Cabinet Office supports the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, and ensures the effective running of government. It is also the corporate headquarters for government, in partnership with HM Treasury, and takes the lead in certain critical policy areas.
Work of the Legal Team
Cabinet Office Legal Advisers cover an exceptionally wide variety of issues, advising all parts of the Cabinet Office (except the European and Global Issues Secretariat which is advised by GLD’s Cabinet Office European Legal Advisers). As a result, Cabinet Office Legal Advisers provide advice to Cabinet Office ministers, No 10, the Cabinet Secretary and the Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office and the officials supporting each of them.
Core functions include advice in relation to matters concerning national security and intelligence, advice to the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Office of Civil Society and support to the Cabinet Office and No. 10 on litigation, inquests and inquiries in which they have an interest or for which they are responsible.
In addition, the directorate advises the Constitution Group within Cabinet Office which reports to the Deputy Prime Minister and is responsible for the coalition government’s constitutional reform policy, including co-ordination of the UK government’s approach towards the referendum on independence for Scotland.
Another major theme is the radical reforms to the government’s new approach towards procurement and commercial activities, delivered through the Efficiency and Reform Group within Cabinet Office.
Department for Communities and Local Government
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department.
DCLG Legal Advisers are at the heart of the government’s localism agendas, aimed at moving decision making power from central government to local councils and empowering communities and individuals to lead the issues in their own neighbourhoods. The department sets policy on supporting local government; communities and neighbourhoods; regeneration and economic growth; social and private sector housing; planning, building regulation; fire control and resilience.
Work of the Legal Team
DCLG Legal Advisers help ministers and policy colleagues to apply the law and manage legal risk; and to make new law so as best to achieve the Department’s objectives. DCLG lawyers advise on legal issues arising from the department’s policies and are heavily involved in developing and implementing those policies through acts of Parliament, secondary legislation and guidance. They also defend the department’s position in contentious matters and advise on operational issues, communications with Parliament and the wider public, and in policy discussions with other Departments.
The work is fascinating and challenging. Whatever the issue, be it stimulating the housing market by increasing the supply of affordable homes, making the planning system work more effectively and efficiently, providing incentives to local councils to inspire economic growth or helping to build strong and united communities, a DCLG lawyer’s role is crucial. The work covers many aspects of public law including human rights, devolution, freedom of information, European Union law and international environmental law.
DCLG Legal Advisers is organised into five divisions:
- Planning Inspectorate legal team
- Local Government and Fire
- Regeneration and Commercial
- Housing, Building and Land
Recent examples of the Department’s work include:
- The Localism Act, which includes provisions on decentralisation; community empowerment; reform of the planning system; reform of social housing tenure, allocation, finance and regulation; and regeneration in London;
- Launching a new housing strategy, as well as the help to buy: equity loan scheme and re-invigoration of the right to buy scheme to increase housing supply and to assist individual’s aspirations of homeownership;
- Development of the National Planning Policy Framework and the Growth and Infrastructure Act, to consolidate, simplify and make the planning system more responsive to local needs;
- The Local Audit and Accountability Act to put in place a new audit and accountability framework for local public bodies; and Establishing the troubled families programme to help to find ways to turn around the lives of troubled families.
For further information, please visit the DCLG website.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and co-located with clients department at 100 Parliament Street.
DCMS aims to improve the quality of life for all through cultural and sporting activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the tourism, creative and leisure industries.
Work of the Legal Team
DCMS Legal Advisers provides legal advice and support to DCMS and the Government Equalities Office (GEO). Its lawyers are fully integrated as in-house legal advisers with their DCMS and GEO policy colleagues.
DCMS Legal Advisers is divided into legal teams;
- Broadcasting and Telecoms
- Culture, Sport and Gambling
It also works with colleagues in other GLD teams to provide specialist support on domestic and European litigation, employment and commercial law.
DCMS Legal Advisers advise on:
- Policy and regulation of the media
- Policy and regulation of telecommunications (fixed and mobile) and the internet
- Competition law issues relating to media and telecoms
- Cultural property
- Built Heritage
- Marine Heritage
- Entertainment licensing
- The Royal Parks
- National Lottery
- Ceremonial and Commemorations
- Entertainment Licensing
- Libraries and legal deposit;
- National Museums and Galleries
- Government Art Collection
- Film, music and creative industries
- DCMS’s sponsorship of the Equality and Human Rights Commission
- Marriage of Same Sex Couples
- Civil partnerships
- Discrimination Law and advancement of equality, including maintenance of the Equality Act 2010
High Profile and Important areas of work
Recent examples of high profile and important work include:
- Roll-out of 4G
- BBC Charter matters
- Leveson Report
- Development of broadband infrastructure
- Olympics 2012
- Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014
- Equality Act 2010
- Equal Marriage Act 2013
For further information, please visit the DCMS website.
Department for Education
The Department for Education (DfE) Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and works alongside policy colleagues in DfE’s London offices.
DfE is responsible for education (to age 19) and for children and families.
Work of the Legal Team
DfE Legal Advisers provide a full range of legal services to assist and support the department (and its 4 Executive Agencies) to advance its policy priorities. They work in close partnership with policy, operational and corporate colleagues, applying their legal professional skills to getting their Department’s business done. They do extensive legislative work on both Bills and Statutory Instruments (SI’s), as well as a very wide range of advisory work.
In particular lawyers:
- work closely with policy colleagues as policies are developed which may lead to legal changes or which need to be implemented by legal processes;
- provide legal support to colleagues and ministers in relation to Bills, instructing Parliamentary Counsel and supporting the Parliamentary process;
- draft secondary legislation to implement acts, such as regulations and orders;
- advise on litigation in which the department is involved, working collaboratively with GLD litigators based at One Kemble Street; and
- advise departmental colleagues on a wide range of legal issues they encounter in their day-to-day work, including in relation to corporate issues such as commercial contracts, information law and procurement.
- Employment law advice is provided by GLD’s Employment Group, based at One Kemble Street.
For further information, please visit the DFE website.
Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra)
Defra Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and are mainly co-located with Defra clients in Westminster, Central London.
Defra brings together all aspects of policy on the environment, rural affairs, farming and food production. Defra’s top priorities are to grow the rural economy, to improve the environment and to safeguard animal and plant health. Defra has roles in both EU and global policy-making, so its work has a strong European and international dimension.
Work of Defra Legal Advisers
Defra Legal Advisers undertakes legal work across a diverse spectrum of policy areas, much of it at the forefront of high-profile government activities and initiatives; flooding, the Thames Tunnel, waste policy, climate change adaptation, reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, animal health and welfare including animal disease emergencies, protection of rural communities, sea fisheries and food labelling. We also have a large part to play in the green economy, sustainable development, and environmental protection and pollution control.
The work is varied, fast-paced and often on controversial issues. In addition to providing legal support to Defra, we also advise a number of delivery agencies and work closely with others such as the Food Standards Agency and lawyers in the devolved governments. DLA provides a great opportunity to gain experience of a wide range of government legal skills and to work on issues affecting operational delivery as well as policy across Whitehall.
Defra lawyers work closely with ministers and policy officials in the Department and across Whitehall. A team-based approach is used and lawyers coordinate with administrators and other specialists including vets and scientists on the development, delivery and implementation of policy. The legal issues arising from policy options include:-
- the application of EU legislation
- administrative law
- human rights
Where necessary, lawyers in DEFRA accompany policy colleagues to Brussels and elsewhere to take part in negotiating European and international agreements.
Lawyers conducting litigation for DEFRA have a varied practice with a high public law content including high-profile judicial reviews and proceedings in the Court of Justice of the European Union.
We instruct Parliamentary Counsel on the drafting of Bills and with policy colleagues attend Parliamentary debates. We ourselves draft a wide range of secondary legislation to implement government policy and EU obligations.
Team Culture and Efficiency
We are proud of our culture of engagement, efficiency, continuous improvement and learning through our highly developed in house training and knowledge management programmes. Our approach has allowed us to reduce our direct running costs by over a third since 2011 at the same time as increasing client satisfaction and staff engagement scores and providing greater flexibility and resilience.
For further information, please visit the DEFRA website.
Treasury Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and is co-located with clients in Westminster, Central London.
HM Treasury is the United Kingdom’s economics and finance ministry. It is responsible for formulating and implementing the government’s financial and economic policy. Its aim is to raise the rate of sustainable growth, and achieve rising prosperity and a better quality of life with economic and employment opportunities for all.
Work of the Legal Team
We advise HM Treasury (HMT) as well as a number of other bodies including the Office of National Statistics, the Royal Mint, the Cabinet Office (Civil Service Pensions) and National Savings.
Our lawyers advise on a wide range of advisory and drafting work across the full spectrum of policy areas for which HMT and related departments are responsible. For example, members of the team were heavily involved in the implementation of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, which brought about a wholesale reform of the regulation of banking, insurance and investment business, and entailed a vast programme of secondary legislation.
Those areas include: * public sector finance, spending, and financial accountability (including government accounting); financial services and markets regulation at UK, European and international levels (including banking, insurance, investment services and electronic money); financial crime and financial sanctions (including the freezing of terrorist assets pursuant to UN resolutions etc, insider dealing, market manipulation and money laundering); * public procurement; state aids and competition; * general European law issues involving public sector finance (including the euro); * public sector pay and pensions; and currency issues (including coinage).
The work of the division is high-profile, interesting and varied, and includes the provision of general legal advice (for example, on public law, community law, human rights and statutory interpretation), the negotiation and implementation of European and other international measures, statutory instrument drafting and Bill work.
For further information, please visit the HM Treasury website.
Department for Work and Pensions & Department for Health
The Legal Services team is part of a joint team which advises both the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DH). They are a Division of the Government Legal Department.
DH Legal Advisers role is to improve the health and well-being of the population of England. The Department provides strategic leadership to the NHS and social care organisations in England. It is responsible for regulation of the medical profession across the UK.
DWP Legal Advisers are responsible for a radical and far-reaching programme of reform: getting people into work, supporting the disabled, and providing a framework for financial security in retirement.
Work of the Legal Team
Lawyers are an important part of each department, operating at the heart of the Government’s social policy and health policy, helping to shape and implement significant reform as well as supporting the Departments’ day to day operations.
Our lawyers work very closely with Ministers and policy officials.
On the DWP side, we grapple with the ever-changing demands of a modern welfare system and the labour market, as well as the challenges of child support and the regulation of the occupational pensions industry.
On the health side we are working to embed a very significant reform of NHS structures and to modernise our provision of social care, while handling the legal and ethical complexities of matters such as human fertilisation and mental health.
The work is demanding, stimulating and rewarding.
Projects are intellectually challenging, fast moving and politically very contentious. Reform proposals frequently raise issues in areas such as human rights, equality, public law, data protection and EU law. We face frequent high profile court challenges raising both domestic and EU law issues. We are regularly involved in high profile litigation in the Supreme Court and in the European Court of Justice.
Current DWP projects include:
- Get Britain working initiatives
- Reform of EU social security
- Reforming the welfare system, in particular by introducing Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment
- A Bill to reform State Pensions
- Modernising social security appeals
- Defending high profile Judicial Review challenges
Current DH projects include:
- A Care Bill
- Embedding of the new NHS structures
- NHS pension reform and professional regulation
- Review of cosmetic surgery
Public health initiatives
We are responsible for important and far-reaching legislation - we usually have a number of Bills in each Parliamentary session.
The legal team assists in the delivery of primary and secondary legislation, helping to develop the policy and legal issues to the point when they are ready for introduction in a Bill, taking the Bill through its Parliamentary stages and implementing it by drafting the necessary secondary legislation.
We are also involved in negotiating and giving effect to EU legislation.
In addition we work closely with colleagues in GLD to deal with any litigation challenges which may arise.
The Procurement and Commercial Law Division delivers commercial law services to both DWP and DH. It is an expanding team in a growth area of business covering a broad range of challenging, high profile and interesting work. The division advises on a comprehensive range of commercial matters and much of our work is on the boundaries of commercial and public law, often at the forefront of major government initiatives and in delivering reform. We advise on a full range of commercial matters, including contract law, public procurement law, intellectual property, state aid, competition law and information law. Commercial lawyers work closely with colleagues in advisory and legislative teams and across other Government Departments. Additionally, where appropriate, we manage external legal providers to assure quality and value for money.
Home Office Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and co-located with clients in Westminster. Although the Home Office is one of the oldest Departments its functions cover many of the important issues currently facing us all. It is changing fast and it has four top objectives:
- Inspire growth by keeping the UK safe
- Cut Crime
- Reduce Immigration
- Prevent Terrorism
Work of the Legal Team
Home Office Legal Adviser’s advise the Home Office in its work at the heart of modern government and is closely involved in and essential to achieving these aims and the work that we do affects people’s daily lives. It is often in the media and public eye. It is regularly subjected to Parliamentary scrutiny. The following are only some of the areas for which the Home Office is responsible:
- crime prevention
- the police
- controlled drugs
- prevention of terrorism
- firearms control
- immigration and asylum
- citizenship and nationality
We advise ministers and officials on all areas of work covered by the Home Office. Our lawyers are closely involved in the development of policy and projects and are seen as part of the Home Office team, rather than a separate department of lawyers dispensing advice.
We also advise Ministers and officials in the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). The role of the NIO is to support the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in securing a lasting peace, based on the Good Friday Agreement, in which the rights and identities of all traditions in Northern Ireland are fully respected and safeguarded and in which a safe, stable, just, open and tolerant society can thrive and prosper.
The Home Office always has a full and challenging programme of legislation and the Home Office Legal Advisers are involved at all stages of taking Bills from the development of policy, to taking a Bill through Parliament and on to implementation. We work closely with those responsible for the formulation of policy, we instruct Parliamentary Counsel (who draft government Bills), we brief ministers on the legislation and we attend Parliament during all stages of a Bill’s passage.
In recent Parliamentary sessions we have worked on a number of Bills: tightening up our borders, fighting terrorism and organised crime and helping the police and communities tackle crime.
We draft subordinate legislation, much of it related to implementing European Union legislation.
We provide advice to our clients on a whole range of legal issues and in the context of a changing legal landscape, including the Human Rights Act 1998 and Data Protection Act 1998 and Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Although we are not litigators, we provide advice to our clients on domestic litigation which is of interest to ministers because it is high profile, politically sensitive or might require a change of policy on the part of the Home Office.
We are involved in all Home Office litigation before the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights and we attend hearings in Luxembourg and Strasbourg. Again, we are not primarily responsible for conducting the litigation but provide advice to our clients on the policy issues arising in the litigation.
Please visit the Home Office website.
Ministry of Defence
MOD Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and co-located with clients in Westminster.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) exists to provide security for the people of the UK and the Overseas Territories by defending them, including against terrorism, and to act as a force for good by fostering international peace and stability.
Work of the Legal Team
MoD’s civilian lawyers in the Central Legal Services (CLS) Directorate give legal advice and support on legal issues connected with the full range of MoD’s activities and responsibilities. In a Department employing 240,840 civilians and Service personnel engaged in a many different activities all over the UK and the world, the legal work is never dull or routine. Our UK based lawyers are organised by the following legal subject areas:
- Commercial Law Division
- General Law Division
- Command, Discipline & Constitutional Law Division
- Operational and International Humanitarian Law Division
- Strategic Corporate Law Division
- Intellectual Property Rights Division
There are few legal areas where our lawyers do not advise, whether it’s domestic, European or wider international law. Much of our work is sensitive, and we also have frequent opportunities to work with legal colleagues in the Armed Forces, other Government Departments and the UK’s close allies.
All our lawyers strive consistently to provide high-quality legal support and advice, sometimes to demanding timetables. It is absorbing and satisfying work that can make a real difference.
For further information, please visit the MOD website.
Ministry of Justice
MoJ Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and co-located with clients in Westminster.
The Legal Directorate supports the Ministry on all aspects of its business. It consists of SCS-led advisory teams and a business support team. Where appropriate we also commission the use of external legal services, especially in relation to commercial and employment matters.
The Directorate’s two legal directors have joint responsibility for the operation of the Directorate.
Our Teams: Most of us are legally qualified barristers or solicitors, and we also have a number of legal trainees. All our legal teams co-located in the Ministry of Justice provide a full range of legal services including; advisory work, Bill work, implementing primary legislation, drafting secondary legislation and litigation support. Many teams are also heavily involved in European negotiations. The Legal Aid Agency team provides both advisory and litigation services for the Director of Legal Aid Casework and acts for the Lord Chancellor in relation to disputes concerning the administration of legal aid by the Agency. As part of the wider Government Legal Service, we have access to a broad range of legal expertise from across Government.
Below you will find information about the work of each team.
Civil and Family Law team: The Civil and Family Law team provide legal services to the MoJ on a full range of issues relating to civil and family law. This covers subjects as diverse as reform of the law governing limitation periods, property law, wills and succession, general tort and contract, private international law and civil judicial co-operation, defamation, ‘compensation culture’ and the law of damages, forced marriages, domestic violence, reciprocal enforcement of maintenance, mental capacity, civil enforcement and civil procedure.
The team is also involved with European and international issues (such as which country’s law should apply in a particular situation). This work can involve a considerable amount of attendance at working group meetings in Brussels or The Hague and in cases before the European Court of Justice.
Corporate Advisory team: The Corporate Advisory team advises the MoJ and some of its ALBs e.g. Youth Justice Board, in relation to contract, other commercial matters (e.g. IP, state aid), property and public procurement, often in relation to large scale projects. The team also provides all commercial legal advice to the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) and has a property team providing advice to the MOJ Estates Directorate. The team’s top priority is to give risk-based advice and drafting to enable MoJ to operate effectively as a commercial entity, and major landlord, purchaser (and in some cases, supplier) of goods and services in the Justice sector.
The team is also a source of expertise on how MoJ should properly conduct itself as a Government Department, for example in respect of the rules on Government finance and when Parliamentary authority is required for expenditure.
Courts, Tribunals, Judiciary and Coroners team
The Courts and Tribunals team provides legal services in respect of the work of courts, tribunals and other judicial decision-makers (including coroners), and the structures and systems that underpin their activities. The team works with some of MoJ’s main operational agencies, in particular Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. We also advise on burial and cremation law. The judiciary team provides legal services about matters relating to the judiciary, including selection, appointment, terms and conditions, discipline and pensions. The team works with MoJ, the Judicial Appointments Commission, the Judicial Office, the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office and the Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman.
Criminal Law team
The top areas of work covered by the Criminal Law team are criminal law policy, criminal procedure, victims and witnesses and European criminal law. A significant part of the team’s work consists of Bill work. The team also advises on criminal injuries compensation, miscarriages of justice, the Royal prerogative of mercy and mentally disordered offenders.
Information and Human Rights team
The Information and Human Rights team provides legal services relating to human rights, freedom of information and data protection, subjects for which MoJ has the policy lead in Whitehall and co-ordinates legal advice across MoJ and Whitehall.
We also advice on cross-cutting EU law issues in relation to justice and home affairs matters in which MoJ has an interest. The team provides training on human rights, freedom of information and data protection for lawyers across the whole of Government. The team maintains Human Rights law and Information law intranet pages for Government lawyers, and chairs the GLS Information law and Human Rights law working groups.
The human rights law team advises on domestic and European Human Rights issues. This includes procedural and substantive aspects of the Human Rights Act, Human Rights aspects of policy and litigation, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and other sensitive EU fundamental rights issues.
The information rights team advises the MoJ policy unit that leads on freedom of information and data protection, including data sharing. The team also advises on cases before the Information Commissioner and the First-tier Tribunal (information rights), advises on high profile matters engaging data issues and works closely with lawyers in other departments to ensure a consistent approach to freedom of information issues. It also advises on data protection both domestically and in the EU context, including data protection cases before the domestic courts and the European Court of Justice, data protection provisions in Government Bills, and the negotiation and implementation of European law on data protection.
Legal Aid and Legal Services team
The Legal Aid and Legal Services team advise MoJ in relation to legal aid and legal services issues. Work on legal aid covers all aspects of policy on legal aid, including criminal legal aid, civil, family, and international legal aid issues. The team also advises in relation to policy on criminal defence costs from Central Funds. The team works closely with the Legal Aid Agency who operate the legal aid scheme and the Legal Aid Agency legal team. Work on legal services covers all aspects of policy on regulation of the legal services and claims management sectors. This includes working with the Legal Services Board and the Office of Legal Complaints, who oversee regulation of legal services providers and handling of complaints.
Legal Aid Agency team
The Legal Aid Agency team is led by the Principal Legal Advisor to the Agency, who is primarily responsible for advice and litigation services provided to the Director of Legal Aid Casework and Lord Chancellor in relation to the operation of the legal aid scheme in England and Wales. In addition to advising Agency staff on complex legal aid issues and producing guidance for staff and legal aid providers; the team also conducts litigation in-house, both in the Administrative Court and other jurisdictions.
Offender Management team
The Offender Management team provides legal services to MoJ, the Youth Justice Board and the National Offender Management Service. The team’s tops priorities include sentencing policy for adults and juveniles, legislation concerning the rehabilitation of offenders, out of court disposals, management of offenders in the community subject to community sentences or on licence, the system for releasing and recalling prisoners, public protection policies, deaths and near deaths in custody, as well as matters relating to the prison population and the general management of offenders within the Prison Service. The team also provides litigation support in respect of challenges concerning prison security measures, conditions of detention, adjudications and security classification of prisoners.
Legal Support team
The Legal Support team (LST) supports the Legal Directorate’s senior leadership team in meeting its business objectives. The LST assists with a range of services including organising business travel for lawyers, supporting recruitment exercises and event organisation, arranging accommodation and IT needs and providing general administrative support. The LST also provides individual support to senior team leaders and their respective teams. Members of the LST lead on information management, finance and processing of FOI requests and Parliamentary Questions.
For more information, please visit the MOJ website.
Department for Transport
DfT Legal Advisers is a division of the Government Legal Department and co-located with clients in Westminster.
The challenges faced by the Department for Transport are among the most complex and challenging faced by Government today. We strive to provide a transport system that is an engine for economic growth, but one that is also greener and safer and improves quality of life in our communities.
Overcrowding on railways and congestion on the roads are familiar to all of us. Air travel has trebled in the past 20 years. With an ageing population, the need for accessible transport increases. Access by public transport to jobs in rural areas an important aspect of dealing with social exclusion. Security is vital in our domestic and international transport services. Our lawyers play a vital role in resolving these issues.
Work of the Legal Team
We advise on a wide range of railway, road, aviation and marine issues, covering domestic, EU and International law.
Our lawyers help to create new legislation. We are closely involved in briefing Ministers and attend Parliament during all stages of a Bill’s passage – for example DfT’s bill to modernise the system of economic regulation for large UK airports. If a bill is taken forward to build a new high speed railway – our lawyers will be part of the front line team to get the Bill in to and through the Houses of Parliament.
We also draft secondary legislation ourselves, including implementing European Directives. We have for example drafted domestic Regulations implementing an EU Directive relating to the railway system that allows for the safe and uninterrupted movement of trains in the EU; and Regulations which will help ensure that the UK meets its 2020 EU renewable energy targets in the transport sector.
We are closely involved in developing and implementing policy, and advise on particular issues or cases as they arise. International work is an important part of what we do. European law, for example, influences how we operate. Often, our lawyers travel to Brussels for negotiations, which might relate to a new EU Directive, a state aid case or a complaint to the Commission that the UK is not complying with EU law. Knowledge and application of the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights are also a feature of our advisory role.
Our lawyers also have opportunities to travel as a result of the UK’s participation in other international bodies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Complex public law issues can arise, requiring an understanding of how government operates, how it exercises its powers, and how it should meet its responsibilities. We apply our skills to matters as varied as streetworks and traffic management, maritime security and the carriage of dangerous goods. Advice may need to be produced under pressure and under intense public scrutiny. The terrorist attacks in the US in September 2001 generated a flurry of activity in aviation security and it was vital that we were able to advise quickly on proposed security measures. More recently our lawyers have been working to develop strategies to protect UK ships from piracy at sea.
The devolution implications of the department’s policies are very much part of the legal environment in which we work. Our advice is sought on the scope of new legislation with respect to the devolved administrations and on the competence of Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales. Can Westminster legislate for children to wear seatbelts in school buses in Wales and Scotland for example?
We frequently offer guidance on compliance with the Data Protection Act. Since the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act, we also advise on the need for open Government. Lawyers advising on employment issues have an unusual opportunity to work at the cutting edge of law and policy, helping to implement the Government’s commitment to best practice as an employer. Lawyers with an interest in commercial matters, for example the way in which transport projects are financed, will find much to stimulate them. For example, multi-billion pound procurement projects for the railways mean that our lawyers can develop expertise in complex financing, corporate law and regulatory issues.
The department’s work can give rise to disputes. These may take the form of judicial review, infraction proceedings before the Court of Justice of the EU, proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights, proceedings in the UK courts and tribunals or arbitration.
GLD lawyers handle most of our formal legal proceedings, but our own lawyers are actively involved in the department’s disputes. This is particularly so as we are committed to mediation and other forms of negotiated settlement.
For further information, please visit the DfT website.
Health and Safety Executive
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a national independent watchdog which has statutory responsibility in Great Britain for securing the health and safety of workers and protecting the general public from work-related risks.
HSE’s responsibilities go beyond core Health and Safety at Work and include, for example, the regulation of nuclear safety and security, pesticides and animal pathogens. HSE works closely with other government departments, particularly the Department for Work and Pensions (its parent department), the Department for Energy and Climate and Climate Change (DECC) and DEFRA.
HSE’s legal advisers are able, committed lawyers, who enjoy a very broad range of high quality work. They have the satisfaction of knowing that their advice, casework and regulations can have a direct affect on saving lives. In addition, our work places emphasis on the Cabinet Office’s better regulation policy. HSE believes that risk management should be about practical steps to protect people from real harm and suffering, not bureaucratic back covering.
If you believe some of the stories in the press, you might think that health and safety law is all about stopping any activity that might possibly lead to harm. This is not HSE’s vision of sensible health and safety - our approach is to seek a balance between the unachievable aim of absolute safety and the kind of poor management of risk that damages lives and the UK economy.
Work of the Legal Team
HSE Legal Adviser’s Office consists of three teams: one dealing with enforcement and two dealing with advisory and drafting work. The enforcement team is based at HSE’s headquarters in Bootle, Merseyside, and the two advisory teams are located in London.
The Enforcement Team
The Enforcement Team is responsible for a wide variety of casework including direct responsibility for the more complex and/or high profile prosecutions under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The team also monitors and liaises with solicitor agents handling lower profile cases on behalf of the organisation. The team’s portfolio also includes appeals against Enforcement Notices before the Employment Tribunal and a variety of civil litigation. The team provides enforcement advice; legal training and updates to operational staff, policy advisory work and lead on liaison with other prosecution agencies.
The Advisory and Drafting Teams
Advisory support to the Health & Safety Executive is provided by two teams located in GLD’s Central Advisory Division. These teams provide general advice on all aspects of health and safety law. Advisory portfolios include the nuclear, oil, gas, and fire industries, construction, occupational stress, environment issues such as tobacco smoke, and biocides, amongst others. Lawyers will have involvement with high profile issues such as the Buncefield explosion and the Government’s policy on new nuclear power stations. Advisory and drafting lawyers are also responsible for the drafting of statutory instruments, many of which originate from European measures, and are involved at all stages from negotiation of the text of Directives to consultation on proposed Regulations. They also provide advice on a number of corporate issues including contract, tort, information law (Freedom of Information and Data Protection Act), employment, copyright and intellectual property rights and procurement law issues.
For further information please visit the HSE website.
HM Revenue & Customs
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) was formed in April 2005, following the merger of Inland Revenue and HM Customs & Excise.
HMRC’s role is to administer the UK’s tax and customs systems to ensure society’s financial wellbeing. We do this by collecting and administering the four direct taxes, such as income tax, and the indirect taxes, such as VAT. The Department also pays and administers Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Child Trust Funds. In addition we have a range of other compliance activities such as enforcing National Minimum Wage regulations and recovering student loans.
In 2009, the UK Border Agency took over statutory responsibility for protecting the UK’s borders against illicit and harmful trade, including illegal import or export of drugs, counterfeit or illicit alcohol and tobacco, and other illicit goods. However, HMRC still has an important role and is responsible for policies and activities associated with collecting duties at the frontier and processing information about international trade.
Work of the legal team
The work of HMRC Solicitor’s Office is an integral part of HMRC and has, in common with other Government departments, a broad range of often unique work covering, in addition to tax, many aspects of public law including Human Rights, Freedom of Information, European law and Judicial Review. We work closely with lawyers in other Government departments.
HMRC offers the opportunity to undertake advisory work, drafting secondary legislation and litigation.
Unlike most Government departments, we conduct all of our litigation in teams in-house (except CJEU cases, which GLD lawyers handle, and Strasbourg cases (FCO)).
Owing to the size of our Department, this includes a significant volume of cases at the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court, the Court of Justice of the European Union and occasionally the European Court of Human Rights. Much of our litigation is both high-profile and high-value, including a number of cases where more than £1bn of tax is at stake. We use the private sector to assist us with some of our litigation.
Our advisory teams provide legal advice and support to all parts of the Department, covering business and personal taxes (including benefits and credits), property and indirect taxes, information, criminal, human rights and European law as well as international co-operation. We work closely with our policy clients in relation to all areas of our work and get involved early in the development of new legislation. Our advisory lawyers draft our secondary legislation and work every year with clients and Parliamentary Counsel on the passage of the Finance Bill.
We also advise and litigate in relation to commercial , personal injury, National Minimum Wage, rating and valuation, criminal finances and the civil aspects of criminal matters, and enforcement of tax debts including insolvency.
Depending on our current vacancies, successful candidates may start in any of these teams.
The quality of the advisory, drafting legislation and litigation work is such that the experience a lawyer can gain at HMRC Solicitor’s Office is commensurate with the best experience available in these areas in the private sector.
The Working Environment
The Solicitor’s Office employs approximately 200 lawyers (both solicitors and barristers), legal trainees plus support and administrative staff. The majority of our lawyers work in London at 100 Parliament Street in Whitehall and Bush House on the Strand.
We also have an office in Ralli Quays, Manchester, a modern building within easy reach of the city centre.
Widening Your Experience
New recruits to the office come from a variety of backgrounds. Both solicitors and barristers work at HMRC Solicitor’s Office and many have previously worked in private practice. It is quite common for newly qualified lawyers and even those with some years’ experience since qualification to have limited experience of taxation. However, this is by no means a disadvantage as a wide general experience in the law is often extremely useful.
Most lawyers move between teams so that they can acquire a range of experience in the work of the various divisions. Staff are encouraged to move between the teams during their careers and to consider loans to legal teams in other departments to widen their experience. It is common for such moves to take place every three years or so in the early stages of a lawyer’s career in the Office.
For further information, please see the HMRC website.
The Law Commission is the permanent law reform body for England and Wales. Established by Act of Parliament in 1965, it is independent of Government.
There are five Law Commissioners. The Chairman is always a High Court Judge or a Judge of the Court of Appeal. The other Commissioners each take primary responsibility for a particular area of law.
Work of the Legal Team
The Law Commission provides lawyers with a rare opportunity to play an important part in the process of law reform and to deal with major issues of law and policy in developing a range of solutions. The work is worthwhile, stimulating and varied. Each lawyer carries a considerable responsibility for analysing the law on given topics with a view to identifying problems and their implications for other branches of the law and developing a range of solutions.
In the early stages of a project, legal staff can expect to be researching the present law, devising possible solutions to the problems or devising questionnaires. Great emphasis is placed upon the process of consultation on law reform proposals, and in evaluating and analysing responses. In later stages lawyers may draft policy papers, instructions to Parliamentary Counsel, and the final Report. Throughout the process they are encouraged, and indeed expected, to put forward their own ideas to assist in the development of proposals for reform.
Lawyers appointed to the Law Commission can demonstrate personal effectiveness in all aspects of their career history. They have a track record of efficiency and reliability and the capacity to remain calm and determined under pressure. Their attitude is constructive, supportive and flexible, and they work effectively with the minimum of direct supervision. They are able to demonstrate specialist knowledge of their area of law; have strong communication skills; solve problems creatively; and develop good working relationships with colleagues, even when under pressure.
Each year the Law Commission runs a campaign to recruit a number of Research Assistants to join our legal teams on fixed-term appointments for approximately 12 months commencing each September. They work closely with our Commissioners and lawyers, and take part in the meetings and discussions relevant to their own projects. The experience provides grounding in the formulation of legal policy and the preparation of legislation and is excellent experience for a variety of careers in the legal world. Information on how to apply is available on the Law Commission’s Website each January.
Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem)
Ofgem is the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets which supports the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority (“the Authority”) which is a body established by the Utilities Act 2000 to regulate the gas and electricity industries in Great Britain.
The Authority has powers under the Gas Act 1986, the Electricity Act 1989, the Utilities Act 2000, the Competition Act 1998, the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Energy Acts of 2004, 2008 and 2010 as well as those arising under European Community legislation.
The principal objective of the Authority is to protect the interests of consumers in relation to electricity or gas by promoting effective competition, wherever appropriate, and regulating the monopoly companies which run the gas and electricity networks. The interests of gas and electricity consumers are their interests taken as a whole, including their interests in the reduction of greenhouse gases and in the security of the supply of gas and electricity to them.
For further information, please visit the Ofgem website.
Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee
The Official Solicitor to the Senior Courts is an independent statutory office holder appointed by the Lord Chancellor under section 90 of the Senior Courts Act 1981. The Public Trustee is an entirely separate independent statutory office holder appointed by the Lord Chancellor under section 8 of the Public Trustee Act 1906.
The Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee each receives a budget from the Ministry of Justice which they jointly manage. The Offices of the Official Solicitor and of the Public Trustee (“OSPT”) are loosely treated as if they were an “arms length body” of the Ministry of Justice. OSPT exists to support the two independent statutory office holders in carrying out their respective separate functions.
The Official Solicitor, who can be either a barrister or solicitor, has always occupied an “official” position within, and as an officer of, the senior courts, and is those courts’ own solicitor.
The Lord Chancellor also appoints under the Act one or more Deputy Official Solicitor(s) . The Deputy Official Solicitor has power to act in the Official Solicitor’s place when the Official Solicitor is not available because of his absence or some other reason or his office is vacant. The Official Solicitor is a quasi corporation.
The Official Solicitor’s functions are:
- To act as last resort litigation friend, and in some cases solicitor , for adults who lack the capacity to conduct their own litigation in the civil and family courts, or are “P” in the Court of Protection, and children (other than those who are the subject of child welfare proceedings) in those courts;
- To act as last resort (1) administrator of estates, (2) trustee and (3) property and affairs deputy under the Mental Capacity Act 2005;
- To act as the last resort registered contact in the administration of the Government’s Child Trust Fund scheme for ‘looked after’ children in England and Wales;
- To assist the Senior Courts and Court of Protection by acting as, or appointing, an advocate to the court , providing advice and assistance to the court, and under Harbin v Masterman making enquiries on behalf of the court.
He is also responsible for the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit and the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Unit.
In most cases in which the Official Solicitor acts as litigation friend, he retains external solicitors for the party who lacks litigation capacity or child or “P” (on whose behalf the Court of Protection is being asked to make welfare or property and affairs decisions). In serious medical treatment and property and affairs cases the Official Solicitor conducts the litigation himself. Approximately 90% of the work at OSPT is conducted for the Official Solicitor or, through the international teams, on behalf of the Lord Chancellor. There are 135 staff at OSPT, including 40 lay case managers and 22 lawyers, who provide additional advice to the lay case managers, act as case managers themselves and conduct litigation on behalf of the Official Solicitor.
One of the lawyers advises the Official Solicitor and the Public Trustee in respect of their trust estates and deputyship work.
The Official Solicitor currently has 2,350 cases in which he is acting as litigation friend. They include civil and family cases of all types and cases in the Court of Protection.
The Official Solicitor holds trust and estate assets of some £45m; has 32 deputyships; and acts in 10,273 child trust funds.
The Public Trustee is a corporation sole. He acts as executor or administrator of estates and as the appointed trustee of settlements. In recent years, he has accepted appointment only as a last resort. Under section 9 Administration of Estates Act 1925 where a person dies intestate his estate vests in the Public Trustee until a grant is taken out; and where a person dies leaving a will but, at the time of his death or before a grant of probate is obtained, there ceases to be a person with power to obtain probate of the will, his estate vests in the Public Trustee until a grant of representation is obtained.
Under section 18 Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1994 where a person has died and a grant of representation has not yet been filed, service of notices affecting property will be sufficiently served if addressed to the personal representatives of the deceased and left or sent by post to his last known address and a copy of it is served on the Public Trustee. Under Part V of the First Schedule to the Law of Property Act 1925 an open space of property held prior to 1 January 1926 upon a tenancy in common was vested in the Public Trustee upon statutory trusts.
The Public Trustee holds trust and estates assets of some £7m.
For more information, please visit the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee website.
Office of Rail Regulation
The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) is the independent safety and economic regulator for Britain’s railways. Our main roles in the context of economic regulation are to regulate Network Rail’s stewardship of the national rail network, to licence operators of railway assets and to approve track and station access agreements.
We also have concurrent jurisdiction with the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate potential breaches of the Competition Act 1998 in relation to the railways. In safety regulation, our principal function is to secure the safe operation of the railway system and to protect both those working on the system and members of the public from health and safety risks arising from the railways. We work in a complex, stimulating, and often high-profile environment which is vital to the nation’s infrastructure and involves stakeholders from across the rail industry and beyond.
The ORR legal services team is a small, friendly and supportive team of around ten lawyers from a mixture of Civil Service and private practice backgrounds. The team provides legal advice in respect of all ORR’s functions as a combined economic and safety regulator. It includes lawyers who provide advice in respect of ORR’s wide ranging economic functions. It also includes a team which advises on rail safety enforcement carries out prosecutions for health and safety offences on the railways and has involvement in inquests arising from deaths on the railways. Members of the team work closely with policy and other colleagues in ORR’s various directorates and with industry stakeholders.
For more information, please visit the ORR website.
Serious Fraud Office
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption. The department is headed by a Director who exercises powers under the superintendence of the Attorney General and is an integral part of the criminal justice system. The SFO aims to contribute to reducing economic crime and its cost to society, to delivering justice and to maintaining confidence in the UK’s business and financial institutions.
The Department conducts both the investigation and the prosecution of cases involving serious or complex fraud, bribery and corruption and is dedicated to working effectively and efficiently, in co-operation with other law enforcement agencies both in the UK and abroad. The SFO deals with around 40 cases at any given time. These may involve bribery and corruption or fraud (including investment, banking or corporate frauds, frauds targeting Government or EU bodies and those involving the manipulation of financial markets). Most cases have an international dimension and many involve close working with other agencies such as the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, HM Revenue & Customs, the Financial Conduct Authority and the National Crime Agency.
Work of the Legal Team
The distinctive feature of the SFO’s approach to its cases is its multidisciplinary teams. Each case is allocated to a team of lawyers, financial investigators, IT and other support staff. Each team is led by a case controller (many of whom are experienced lawyers) who is responsible for all aspects of the investigation and any ensuing prosecution. Counsel and other experts may be instructed and work closely with the team throughout. SFO work is difficult and challenging - it attracts considerable press and public interest - but the staff are highly motivated and are drawn from a wide variety of backgrounds.
As well as roles for lawyers as case controllers, case teams normally include other lawyers, who can be involved in interviewing witnesses and suspects (often under the SFO’s statutory powers), taking statements and analysing evidence. They may need to coordinate with other agencies, advise on difficult legal or practical issues, or obtain foreign or expert evidence.
Lawyers also work in the SFO’s Proceeds of Crime (POC) Division, a specialist team that conducts proceedings with the aim of recovering the proceeds of crime in accordance with the SFO’s strategic objectives. Working together with financial investigators, lawyers in the POC Division are involved in asset recovery work conducting complex confiscation and asset recovery cases, including restraint proceedings, confiscation hearings, enforcement activity, and third party litigation.
Lawyers also work in the Strategic Relations Division on a variety of matters, such as cross Whitehall policy development, advising the SFO’s International Team which deals with mutual legal assistance matters, and providing guidance on topics such as Freedom of Information and Data Protection law, new legislation and SFO procedure.
For further information, please visit the SFO website.
Water Services Regulation Authority
The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) is the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales. Our role is to seek value for consumers. Before 1 April 2006 our functions rested with the Director General of Water Services. The framework for the changeover was outlined in the Water Act 2003. It provides a similar structure to other economic regulators.
The Board includes the Chairman, a Chief Executive, two executive and four non-executive directors. The Board is responsible for deciding how we carry out our functions and effectively meet our statutory requirements. There is a majority of non-executive members.
We make our decisions independently of the Government, but we work closely with:
- the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Welsh Government;
- the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater), which is an independent organisation that represents customers’ interests and deals with your complaints;
- the Drinking Water Inspectorate, which sets standards for the quality of drinking water;
- the Environment Agency, which regulates and enforces water abstraction consents and quality standards in inland, estuarial and coastal waters.
For further information, please visit the Ofwat website.
The Legal Services Department (LS) provides legal advice and support to all parts of the Welsh Government. The Director is the chief legal adviser to the Welsh Government and is responsible for the management of the Department, the oversight of litigation involving the Welsh Government and arrangements under which external legal advice is obtained. The Constitution Team of lawyers and the Central Administration Team report directly to the Director.
The First Legislative Counsel heads the Office of Legislative Counsel, responsible for the drafting of Assembly Bills, and has broad oversight for maintaining and improving the quality of the Department’s bilingual legislation and legislative procedures. Four Deputy Directors have corporate roles in relation to the running of the Department and are responsible for 12 teams of lawyers, consisting of:
- Local Government & Communities Team
- Social Care Team
- Commercial Legal Services
- Health & Food Safety Team
- Education (Schools) Team
- Education (Higher & Further Education) Team
- Environment Team
- Planning Team
- Welsh Language, Culture & Sport Team
- Economy Team
- Transport & Housing Team
- Rural Affairs Team
For further information, please visit the Welsh Government website.