Solicitor General for New South Wales

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Solicitor General for New South Wales
Coat of Arms of New South Wales.svg
Incumbent
Michael Sexton SC

since February 1998
Department of Justice
AppointerGovernor of New South Wales
Term length10 years
Inaugural holderJohn Stephen
Formation8 August 1824
WebsiteNSW Department of Justice

Solicitor General for New South Wales, known informally as the Solicitor General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Attorney General. He or she can exercise the powers of the Attorney General in the Attorney General's absence. The Solicitor General acts alongside the Crown Advocate, and Crown Solicitor, and serves as one the legal and constitutional advisers of the Crown and its government in the Australian state of New South Wales.

The Solicitor General is addressed in court as "Mr Solicitor" or "Ms Solicitor". Despite the title, the position is usually held by a barrister, and since 1925 has been a Queen's Counsel or Senior Counsel. Previously a political appointment like the Attorney General is today, it has been separate from parliament since 1922 and since 1969 the Solicitor General has been a statutory office connected with the Department of Justice.

History and function[edit]

The Solicitor General operates under the provisions of the Solicitor General Act 1969.[1] Section 2 of the act stipulates that the Solicitor General must be "an Australian lawyer of at least 7 years’ standing" and must not be a Minister of the Crown. The retirement age is set at 72.[1] The Solicitor General acts as Counsel for the Crown in the High Court of Australia and other courts, and advises the Attorney General on civil and criminal matters, including issues of constitutional law.[2] Until 1987, the Solicitor General had the power to initiate Crown appeals at the Court of Criminal Appeal in NSW, it then became the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions.[3]

While John Plunkett was the first NSW Barrister to be appointed a Queen's Counsel, this was on 6 June 1856 after he had retired as Attorney General.[4][5] The first person who was a Queen's Counsel at the time of his appointment as Solicitor General was John Hargrave QC. Cecil Weigall was appointed Solicitor General in 1922 and appointed King's Counsel in 1925. Harold Snelling QC was a Queen's Counsel at the time of his appointment. From 1969 when the position of Solicitor General was converted to a statutory office, only a person who was a Queen's Counsel could be appointed Solicitor General.[6] The requirement was removed in 1993 when the appointment of Queen's Counsel was abolished in NSW.[7]

Office-holders[edit]

Solicitors General, 1824–1922[edit]

Ordinal Solicitor General Member of parliament,
party affiliation
Term start Term end Notes
1 John Stephen Not a member of
Legislative Council
11 August 1824 17 August 1825 [8][9][10]
James Holland Appointed in 1826 but never sworn in. [11]
William Foster 3 September 1827 1 April 1828 [12][13]
John Sampson 15 March 1828 27 October 1829 [14][15]
Edward MacDowell Appointed in 1830 but failed to take up his duties promptly [11]
2 John Plunkett 14 June 1832 16 September 1836 [11]
3 William à Beckett 20 March 1841 30 August 1844 [16]
4 William Manning 31 August 1844 11 January 1848 [11]
William Foster 12 January 1848 19 November 1849 [11]
(4) William Manning Appointed MLC from 1851, no party 20 November 1849 5 June 1856 [11]
5 John Darvall MLA, no party 6 June 1856 25 July 1856 [11]
6 Alfred Lutwyche MLC, no party 12 September 1856 2 October 1856 [11]
(5) John Darvall MLA, no party 3 October 1856 23 May 1857 [11]
7 Edward Wise MLC, no party 23 May 1857 7 September 1857 [11]
(6) Alfred Lutwyche MLC, no party 7 September 1857 14 November 1858 [11]
8 William Dalley MLA, no party 15 November 1858 11 February 1859 [11]
9 John Hargrave QC MLC, no party 21 February 1859 26 October 1859 [11]
3 November 1859 31 March 1860
1 August 1863 15 October 1863
10 Peter Faucett MLA, no party 16 October 1863 2 February 1865 [11]
(9) John Hargrave MLC, no party 3 February 1865 21 June 1865 [11]
11 Robert Isaacs MLA, no party 22 January 1866 26 October 1868 [11]
12 Joshua Josephson MLA, no party 27 October 1868 9 September 1869 [11]
13 Julian Salomons MLC,[18] no party 18 December 1869 15 December 1870 [11][17]
14 William Charles Windeyer MLA, no party 16 December 1870 13 May 1872 [11]
15 Joseph Innes MLA, no party 14 May 1872 19 November 1873 [11]
Office not in use 1873 1901 [19]
16 Richard O'Connor MLC, Protectionist 19 July 1893 13 September 1893 [19][20]
17 George Reid KC MLA, Free Trade 21 December 1894 5 March 1895 [19][11]
19 December 1895 20 April 1896
22 December 1896 9 February 1897
27 April 1898 7 October 1898
3 January 1899 1 May 1899
Hugh Pollock Not a member of Parliament 31 July 1901 6 October 1904 [11][21]
18 John Garland MLC, Liberal Reform 21 December 1909 20 October 1910 [11]
Walter Bevan Not a member of Parliament 15 March 1911 1912 [11][22][23]
19 David Hall MLC, Labour 2 April 1912 28 January 1914 [11][24][25]
20 William Holman MLA, Labour 19 January 1915 6 February 1915 [11]
(18) John Garland KC MLC, Nationalist 16 November 1916 23 July 1919 [11][26]
21 John Daniel FitzGerald 23 July 1919 12 April 1920 [11][27]
22 Robert Sproule MLC, Labour 15 April 1920 13 April 1922 [11]

Solicitors General, 1923–present[edit]

Ordinal Solicitor General Term start Term end Time in office Notes
23 Cecil Weigall QC 27 December 1922 August 1953 30 years, 217 days [28]
24 Harold Snelling QC August 1953 September 1974 21 years, 31 days [29]
25 Reginald Marr QC September 1974 March 1978 3 years, 181 days
26 Gregory Sullivan QC February 1979 February 1981 2 years, 0 days
27 Mary Gaudron QC 16 February 1981 February 1987 5 years, 350 days
28 Keith Mason QC February 1987 February 1997 10 years, 0 days
Leslie Katz SC (Acting) February 1997 February 1998 1 year, 0 days
29 Michael Sexton SC February 1998 present 21 years, 191 days

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Solicitor General Act 1969 (NSW) s 2 Appointment of Solicitor General.
  2. ^ "Solicitor General". NSW State Records. NSW Government. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  3. ^ Nader QC, John (2011). "The failed art of sentencing offenders" (PDF). Bar News. NSW Bar Association. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  4. ^ "Mr Plunkett's retirement from office". Freeman's Journal. New South Wales, Australia. 28 June 1856. p. 2. Retrieved 30 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "NSW silk appointments". NSW Bar Association. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  6. ^ Solicitor General Act 1969 (NSW) s 2.
  7. ^ Legal Profession Reform Act 1993 (NSW) Schedule 1 (abolition of Queen's Counsel) and Schedule 5 (amendment of the Solicitor General Act 1969).
  8. ^ Currey, CH. "Stephen, John (1771–1833)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  9. ^ "John Stephen Esq appointed Solicitor-General". The Sydney Gazette And New South Wales Advertiser. 12 August 1824. p. 1. Retrieved 19 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ "John Stephen Esq appointed additional judge of the Supreme Court". The Australian. 18 August 1825. p. 1. Retrieved 19 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Mason, K, The Office of Solicitor General for New South Wales (PDF) (1988 Autumn) Bar News: Journal of the NSW Bar Association 22.
  12. ^ "William Foster Esq. sworn in as Solicitor General". The Sydney Gazette And New South Wales Advertiser. 3 September 1827. p. 2. Retrieved 19 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  13. ^ "Domestic intelligence". Colonial Advocate, And Tasmanian Monthly Review And Register. 1 April 1828. p. 52. Retrieved 19 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  14. ^ "John Sampson Esq appointed Solicitor-General". The Sydney Gazette And New South Wales Advertiser. 17 March 1828. p. 1. Retrieved 19 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  15. ^ "Sudden death of the Solicitor-General". The Sydney Gazette And New South Wales Advertiser. 29 October 1829. p. 2. Retrieved 19 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  16. ^ Coppel, E. G. "'à Beckett, Sir William (1806–1869)" (published first in hardcopy 1969). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  17. ^ a b Edgar, Suzanne (1972). "Salomons, Sir Julian Emanuel (1835 - 1909)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University.
  18. ^ Salomons was not appointed to the Legislative Council until 11 August 1870, 7 months after his appointment as Solicitor General.[17]
  19. ^ a b c The office was not filled however Richard O'Connor and George Reid were temporarily appointed to allow them to deputise for the Attorney-General in his absence: Appleby, G (2016). Role of the Solicitor-General. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 73. ISBN 9781509903962.
  20. ^ "The Hon. Richard Edward O'Connor (1851–1912)". Members of Parliament. Parliament of New South Wales. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  21. ^ Pollock's appointment was controversial because he was a public servant as Secretary of the Attorney-General's department and had never practiced as a barrister: Mason, K (2019). "Ch 1 Aspects of the History of the Solicitor-General in Australia". In Keyzer, P; Patrick (eds.). Public Sentinels: A Comparative Study of Australian Solicitors-General. Routledge. ISBN 9781317073338. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  22. ^ "Appointment of Walter Bevan, Esquire to be Solicitor-General". Government Gazette Of The State Of New South Wales (33). 15 March 1911. p. 1543. Retrieved 23 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  23. ^ "Appointment of Walter Bevan, Esquire to be Solicitor-General". Government Gazette Of The State Of New South Wales (94). 26 July 1911. p. 3970. Retrieved 23 January 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  24. ^ "Appointment of the Honourable David Robert Hall, MLC, to be also Solicitor-General". Government Gazette Of The State Of New South Wales (49). 10 April 1912. p. 2229. Retrieved 1 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  25. ^ "Appointment of the Honourable David Robert Hall, MLC, to be also Solicitor-General". Government Gazette Of The State Of New South Wales (106). 2 July 1913. p. 4127. Retrieved 1 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  26. ^ "Appointment of the Honorable John Garland, KC, MLC, to be also Solicitor-General". Government Gazette Of The State Of New South Wales (187). 16 November 1916. p. 6738. Retrieved 1 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  27. ^ "Appointment of the Honourable John Daniel FitzGerald MLC to be also Solicitor General". Government Gazette Of The State Of New South Wales (183). New South Wales, Australia. 23 July 1919. p. 4060. Retrieved 1 February 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  28. ^ Mason, Keith. Weigall, Cecil Edward (1870–1955) (published first in hardcopy 1990). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  29. ^ Bennett, J. M. "Snelling, Harold Alfred Rush (1904–1979)" (published first in hardcopy 2002). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 20 September 2015.

External links[edit]