Ministry of Justice
|Ministerial Department overview|
|Jurisdiction||United Kingdom, England and Wales in respect of certain devolved matters|
|Headquarters||102 Petty France
Westminster, London, SW1H 9AJ
|Annual budget||£8.2 billion & £400 million capital expenditure in 2011-12 |
|Ministerial Department executive|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United Kingdom
|This article is part of the series: Courts of England and Wales|
|Law of England and Wales|
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (a combined position). The department is also responsible for areas of constitutional policy not transferred in 2010 to the Deputy Prime Minister, human rights law and information rights law across the UK.
The ministry was formed in May 2007 when some functions of the Home Secretary were combined with the Department for Constitutional Affairs. The latter had replaced the Lord Chancellor's Department in 2003.
Its stated priorities are to reduce re-offending and protect the public, to provide access to justice, to increase confidence in the justice system, and uphold people’s civil liberties. The Secretary of State is the minister responsible to Parliament for the judiciary, the court system and prisons and probation in England and Wales, with some additional UK-wide responsibilities e.g. the UK Supreme Court and judicial appointments by the Crown.
Prior to the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010, the ministry handled relations between the UK Government and the three devolved administrations: the Northern Ireland Executive; the Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.
Responsibility for devolution was then transferred to the re-established position of Deputy Prime Minister, currently Nick Clegg, based in the Cabinet Office. He also assumed responsibility for political and constitutional reform, including reform of the House of Lords, the West Lothian Question, electoral policy, political party funding reform and royal succession.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice have joint responsibility for a commission on a British bill of rights.
The Ministry of Justice retained the following UK-wide remit:
- European Union and international justice policy
- Freedom of information and data protection
- Human rights and civil liberties
- the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom
- The National Archives
As the office of the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, the ministry is also responsible for policy relating to Lord Lieutenants (i.e. the personal representatives of the Queen), "non-delegated" royal, church and hereditary issues, and other constitutional issues, although the exact definition of these is unclear.
The post of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was abolished in 1922 but Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, however the functions and responsibilities do belong from then to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, currently Theresa Villiers.
England and Wales only
The vast majority of the Ministry of Justice's work takes place in England and Wales. The ministry has no responsibility for devolved criminal justice policy, courts, prisons or probation matters in either Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Within the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for ensuring that all suspected offenders (including children and young people) are appropriately dealt with from the time they are arrested, until convicted offenders have completed their sentence. The ministry is therefore responsible for all aspects of the criminal law, including the scope and content of criminal offences. Its responsibilities extend to the commissioning of prison services (through the National Offender Management Service), rehabilitation and reducing offending, victim support, the probation service and the out-of-court system, the Youth Justice Board, sentencing and parole policy, criminal injuries compensation and the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Other responsibilities limited to England and Wales include the administration of all courts and tribunals, land registration, legal aid and the regulation of legal services, coroners and the investigation of deaths, administrative justice and public law, the maintenance of the judiciary, public guardianship and mental incapacity, supervision of restricted patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and civil law and justice, including the family justice system and claims management regulation.
The Ministry of Justice is the department that facilitates communication between the Crown dependencies i.e. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and the UK Government. These are self-governing possessions of the British monarch, through her titles as Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands and Lord of Mann in the Isle of Man.
It processes legislation for Royal Assent passed by the insular legislative assemblies and consults with the Islands on extending UK legislation to them. It also ensures that relevant UK legislation is extended to the islands smoothly.
- Budget 2011 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
- National Audit Office (6 July 2010). Ministry of Justice, Financial Management Report (PDF). TSO. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-10-296533-9.
- List of Ministerial Responsibilities. London: Cabinet Office. 2010. p. 44.
- "Cabinet Office". List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- "Ministry of Justice". List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- "Home Office to be split in two". BBC News Online. BBC. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2007.
- "Ministry of Justice – What we do – Crown dependencies". Retrieved 7 April 2013.