What are the roles and functions of the Attorney General?
The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago has a dual role. He is a member of Government with two separate constitutional roles: a governmental role and a role as the guardian of the public interest.
In his governmental role, he acts as a member of Government in the performance of his duties and in his role as the guardian of the public interest, he acts independently in a quasi-judicial capacity, representing the community at large.
In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Attorney General is responsible for the administration of legal affairs in Trinidad and Tobago. Legal Proceedings for and against the State must be taken:
a) In the case of civil proceedings, in the name of the Attorney General and;
b) In the case of criminal proceedings, in the name of the State.
The Attorney General has responsibility for the following departments:
Wholly Owned Enterprises
Appointment to Quasi Judicial Bodies
Office of the Solicitor General
Legal Advice to the Government
Office of Chief State Solicitor
Public Trustee/Official Receiver
Office of Chief Parliamentary Counsel
Statutory Boards and other Bodies
Corruption Investigation Bureau
Council of Legal Education
Equal Opportunity Commission
Equal Opportunity Tribunal
Hugh Wooding Law School
Law Reform Commission
Tax Appeal Board
After gaining Independence in 1962, the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago assigned to the Attorney General the powers now exercised by the Director of Public Prosecutions i.e. the institution and undertaking of criminal proceedings. Upon attaining Republican status in 1976, the Constitution declared the Attorney General a Minister and assigned him/her responsibility for the administration of legal affairs in Trinidad and Tobago. Legal proceedings for and against the State must be taken, in the case of civil proceedings, in his/her name and in the case of criminal proceedings in the name of the State.
There have been changes in the structure of the Office of the Attorney General after 1976. From 1979 to 1990, the Office of the Attorney General functioned under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs, where both an Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs operated conjointly. In 1997, the ministry portfolios were split into two, where they functioned as separate entities and in 1999 subsequently re-joined but were separated again three years later in 2002. On September 7, 2015 the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago merged the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Legal Affairs to once more operate as the Ministry of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs.