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Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)

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Ministry of Justice
Welsh: Y Weinyddiaeth Gyfiawnder

102 Petty France, Westminster
Ministerial Department overview
Preceding Ministerial Department
JurisdictionGovernment of the United Kingdom
Headquarters102 Petty France
Westminster, London
EmployeesOver 77,000
Annual budget£6.3 billion & £600 million capital expenditure in 2018–19[1]
Secretary of State responsible
Ministerial Department executive
Child agencies

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is a ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (a combined position). 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 to uphold people's civil liberties.[2] The Secretary of State is the minister responsible to Parliament for the judiciary, the court system, 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. 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 British Ministry of Justice may also oversee the administration of justice in Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man (which are Crown Dependencies), as well as Saint Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha, and the Falkland Islands (which are British Overseas Territories).[3][4][5] Gibraltar, another British overseas territory, has its own Ministry of Justice.[6]

The ministry was formed in May 2007 when some functions of the Home Secretary were combined with the Department for Constitutional Affairs.[7] The latter had replaced the Lord Chancellor's Department in 2003.

The expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Justice are scrutinised by the Justice Select Committee.[8]





Prior to the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010,[9][10] the ministry handled relations between the British 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, 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.

After 2015, responsibility for devolution was transferred back to the ministry as well as the three offices for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland until 2019 when it was transferred to the Minister for the Union in the Prime Minister's Office. The role is currently held by the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. Reform of the House of Lords was given to the Leader of the House of Lords and the Cabinet Office. The West Lothian Question was given to the Leader of the House of Commons as was electoral policy and political party funding reform which is now handled by the Speakers Committee on Electoral Reform and the House Leader. Royal succession was given back to the ministry.

The Secretary of State for Justice had responsibility for a commission on a British bill of rights. The British bill of rights was a plan to implement human rights through national law, instead of the European Convention on Human Rights being part of UK law through the Human Rights Act 1998. This would have also ended the binding authority the European Court of Human Rights has over British courts.[11] This was later shelved, but recently, this has gained support since the UK left the European Union.[citation needed]

The Ministry of Justice retained the following UK-wide remit:

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 King), "non-delegated" royal, church and hereditary issues, and other constitutional issues, although the exact definition of these is unclear.[12]

The post of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was abolished in 1922 though Northern Ireland remains part of the UK. The authority of the Lord Chancellor of Ireland was transferred to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.[13]

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.[14] 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. The Attorney General for England and Wales (also the Advocate General for Northern Ireland) works with the Ministry of Justice to develop criminal justice policy.[15]

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.

Crown dependencies


The Ministry of Justice is the department that facilitates communication between the Crown dependencies i.e. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and HM Government. These are self-governing possessions of the British monarch, through his 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 the Islands on extending UK legislation to them. It also ensures that relevant UK legislation is extended to the islands smoothly.[16]



The Ministers in the Ministry of Justice are as follows, with cabinet ministers in bold:[17]

Minister Portrait Office Portfolio
The Rt Hon. Shabana Mahmood KC MP Secretary of State for Justice
Lord Chancellor
Overall departmental responsibility; oversight of all portfolios and Ministry of Justice strategy; oversight of future relationship with the EU and international business; resourcing of the department; functions of the Lord Chancellor; judicial policy including pay, pensions and diversity; corporate services;[18] communicating with the Attorney General's Office[19]
The Rt Hon. The Lord Timpson Minister of State for Prisons, Parole and Probation Prison operations, policy, reform and industrial relations; probation policy and operations; youth justice; parole; offender health; offender cohorts; extremism; Home Detention Curfew (HDC); Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) schemes; drugs; electronic monitoring; reducing reoffending[20]
Heidi Alexander MP Minister of State TBC[21]
vacant Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Courts and Legal Services International; promotion of legal services; Crown Dependencies; lead on cross-cutting CJS issues; criminal law and criminal court recovery (including legal aid); HMCTS administration (including fees); court and tribunal reform programme delivery; court and tribunal transparency; Office of the Public Guardian (OPG); mental capacity; coroners and death management; racial disparity; cross cutting corporate decisions[22]
The Rt Hon. The Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Ministry business in the House of Lords (excluding Criminal Legal Aid); constitution; modern justice system; legal support; dispute resolution and Lawtech and emerging technologies; human rights; judicial review; judicial policy; civil justice; international; tribunals policy; court recovery – civil, family, tribunal; legal aid – civil, family, tribunal; legal services; devolution and the Union; family justice, and marriage and divorce; EU retained law policy[23]
vacant Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sentencing Sentencing policy; sentencing bill; illegal migration; electronic monitoring; PECS[24]
Jess Phillips MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Victims and Safeguarding

Victims and witnesses; rape and serious sexual offences (RASSO); violence against women and girls (VAWG); criminal law; child sexual abuse; miscarriages of justice; CICA[25]
Held jointly with the Home Office

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice is Dame Antonia Romeo, who is by virtue of her office also Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.

See also



  1. ^ Budget 2018 (PDF). London: HM Treasury. 2018. pp. 23–24. Retrieved 30 July 2019.
  2. ^ List of Ministerial Responsibilities (PDF). London: Cabinet Office. 2010. p. 44.
  3. ^ "Crown Dependencies: Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man". GOV.UK. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  4. ^ "The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability" (PDF). Foreign & Commonwealth Office. June 2012.
  5. ^ "Chief Justice of the Falkland Islands | Judicial Appointments Commission". www.judicialappointments.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 18 July 2018. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Departments & services | Government of Gibraltar". www.gibraltar.gov.gi. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  7. ^ National Audit Office (6 July 2010). Ministry of Justice, Financial Management Report (PDF). TSO. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-10-296533-9.
  8. ^ "Role - Justice Committee". UK Parliament. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  9. ^ "Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement". Conservative Party. 12 May 2010. Archived from the original on 15 May 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Conservative Liberal Democrat Coalition Agreement". Liberal Democrats. 12 May 2010. Archived from the original on 11 December 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Cabinet Office". List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Ministry of Justice". List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
  13. ^ "Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 29 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Home Office to be split in two". BBC News Online. BBC. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2007.
  15. ^ "Attorney General's Office - About us". Gov.uk. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Ministry of Justice – What we do – Crown dependencies". Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  17. ^ "Our ministers". GOV.UK. Prime Minister's Office, 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  19. ^ "The Attorney General of England and the Attorney General of the United States". Duke University School of Law. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Minister of State - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  21. ^ "Minister of State - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 8 July 2024.
  22. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  23. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
  24. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  25. ^ "Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - GOV.UK". www.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 November 2023.