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Office of the Attorney General

The Office of the Attorney General is the constitutionally independent prosecution service of the Republic of Malta.
 
The origins of the Office of the Attorney General may vaguely be traced back at least to the times when Malta was governed by the Knights of St. John when the Advocate and the Procurator Fiscal investigated and prosecuted all crimes.
 
An officer by the designation of Attorney General, however, dates back to colonial times when Malta was under British rule and when by a Proclamation of August 1832 the then British Lieutenant Governor abolished the office of Advocate Fiscal and other public legal offices and transferred their functions to the office of Her Majesty’s Attorney General which was established by the same law. The Attorney General was described in the law as the legal adviser of the Government and ex ufficio General Magistrate.
 
This arrangement lasted only a few years and in 1839 the office of Attorney General was substituted with the office of Crown Advocate.
 
Under the 1887 colonial Constitution of Malta the Crown Advocate became a member of the Executive Council (an organ of government) and therefore for the first time the office became involved in the political process of Government.
 
In 1921, however, the Crown Advocate’s involvement in the performance of political Government functions came to an end and he no longer remained a member of the Executive Council.
 
In 1922, the office of Public Prosecutor and Treasury Counsel was created and the criminal law duties which formerly vested in the Crown Advocate were now transferred to the Public Prosecutor whilst the civil law duties previously vested in the Crown Advocate were vested in the same officer acting under the title of Treasury Counsel.
 
The Office of the Attorney General was later established by the Attorney General and Counsel for the Republic (Constitution of Office) Ordinance of 1936. The Attorney General under this law inherited all the powers, duties and functions which were previously vested in the Public Prosecutor and Treasury Counsel. The Attorney General, therefore, became the Public Prosecutor and principal legal advisor to the Government.
 
In the 1964 Independence Constitution the office of Attorney General was maintained as a non-political public office and its political independence was strengthened and enhanced through the entrenchment of the office in the Constitution.
 
In the Constitution the Attorney General is deemed to be part of the Executive but it is also provided that in the exercise of his powers to institute, undertake and discontinue criminal proceedings the Attorney General is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. The same is provided in respect of other powers conferred on the Attorney General by any law in terms which authorize him to exercise that power in his individual judgment. For this purpose, the Constitution provides the Attorney Generali with the same guarantees of security of tenure as are provided to members of the judiciary.
 
Although the Attorney General enjoys Constitutional independence in the terms stated above, his decisions are still subject to review in actions based on the Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms entrenched in Chapter IV of the Constitution of Malta or on the European Convention Act which incorporates the European Convention of Human Rights in Maltese domestic law.
 
The dual role of the Attorney General as public prosecutor and as principal legal counsel to the Government in all other legal spheres continued until the 18th December 2019 when the office of State Advocate was constituted to take over the Government legal advisory role of the Attorney General. By then the Office of the Attorney General had been divided into two main units for about 25 years. These units were the Criminal Law and Prosecutions Unit and the Civil, Constitutional and Administrative Law Unit which also operated from different premises. With the coming into force of the State Advocate Act 2019 on the 18th December 2019 the former Civil, Constitutional and Administrative Law Unit formed the basis of the Office of the State Advocate which became a separate entity whilst the Office of the Attorney General became a specialized prosecution service.
 
The Office of the Attorney General also acts as the central authority for the purpose of international judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
Contact Information:
 Office of the Attorney General 
Admiralty House, 53,
South Street,
Valletta, VLT 1101
 
 Telephone
+356 2248 8800
 
 Email

 Website