Solicitor General for Scotland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Solicitor General for Scotland
Scottish Gaelic: Àrd-neach-lagha a' Chrùin an Alba
Ruth Charteris
since 22 June 2021
Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
TypeLaw officer of the Crown
Member ofScottish Cabinet
Cabinet Sub-Committee on Legislation
Scottish Government Legal Directorate
Reports toFirst Minister
AppointerMonarch on the advice of the First Minister
Salary£115,700 per annum (2023)[1]
WebsiteScottish Government | Solicitor General

His Majesty's Solicitor General for Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Àrd-neach-lagha a' Chrùin an Alba) is one of the Law Officers of the Crown, and the deputy of the Lord Advocate, whose duty is to advise the Scottish Government on Scots Law. They are also responsible for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service which together constitute the Criminal Prosecution Service in Scotland.

Together with the Lord Advocate, the Solicitor General for Scotland is one of the senior legal advisors to the government in Scotland.[2] Whilst the Solicitor General for Scotland supports the Lord Advocate in their functions, the Solicitor General may also exercise their statutory and common law powers when necessary.[3]


Until 1999, when the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive were created, the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland advised Her Majesty's Government. Since their transfer to the Scottish Government, the British Government has been advised on Scots Law by the Advocate General for Scotland. Until 2007, both the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General attended the weekly meetings of the Scottish cabinet, until then–First Minister Alex Salmond ended this in an attempt to "de-politicise the post". Both the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General remain members of the Scottish Government as the two senior law officers, and may still attend cabinet meetings if legal issues are expected to arise.[4]

In 2021, there were calls for the Scottish Government to review the post of Lord Advocate in its current form, which sees the post holder being the principal legal adviser to the Scottish Government as well as serving as the head of the prosecution's system in Scotland. The Scotland Act 1998 allows for the amendment of both the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General for Scotland's post and functions which would allow the Scottish Government to separate the roles of both prosecutor and the principal government adviser between the two law officer posts – the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General for Scotland. If such changes were implemented by the Scottish Government to amend the post, it could see that the Lord Advocate continues as the head of Scotland's prosecution service, whilst no longer attending cabinet meetings of the Scottish Government. As a result, the responsibility of principal legal adviser to the Scottish Government would subsequently pass to the Solicitor General for Scotland who would be required to attend cabinet meetings when necessary.[5]

It has been argued by Scott Crichton Styles of the Press and Journal that the position of Solicitor General and the Lord Advocate will "always be accused of being biased unless the role is changed", citing the legal case HM Advocate v Salmond and the subsequent issues this case caused, considering the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General for Scotland is expected to conduct their duties independent of the government.[5] A consultation of Scottish lawyers in 2021 found an overwhelming majority of those asked were in favour of the Lord Advocate's role to be split.[6] Both the government of Nicola Sturgeon and Sturgeon's successor, the Yousaf government, have committed to a review of the Lord Advocate's by the end of the current Scottish Parliamentary term in 2026.[7]

The current Solicitor General is Ruth Charteris, who is the deputy to the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain, since June 2021. The appointment of both Charteris and Bain to the posts of Solicitor General for Scotland and Lord Advocate respectively marks the first time that the two senior law officers in Scotland has been held by women at the same time.[8]


Ultimately, the office holder of Solicitor General for Scotland is the deputy to the Lord Advocate, and assists the incumbent Lord Advocate in carrying out the duties of their post. Like the Lord Advocate, the Solicitor General is a member of the Scottish Government and one of the Law officers of the Crown in Scotland. The Solicitor General is a member of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and may be instructed by the First Minister to investigate matters on their behalf rather than the Lord Advocate.[9]

In 2023, the Solicitor General for Scotland was instructed by the incumbent First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf to "fully investigate" claims made during the United Kingdom's COVID-19 inquiry regarding messages and WhatsApp messages not being handed over by senior government officials for investigation. Yousaf claimed that it "was his understanding" that all messages required had been handed over for scrutiny during the inquiry, but had confirmed "if there are any concerns raised they will be fully investigated and I will ask the solicitor general to investigate them."[10]

List of Solicitors General for Scotland[edit]

List from 1696. Until 1764, the office was at times held jointly.




* = served later as Lord Advocate


  • Most of the above list is taken from Haydn's Book of Dignities, 12th edition (1894, reprinted 1969) and from Oxford Companion to Law, Clarendon Press, 1980.


  1. ^ "MSP salaries". The Scottish Parliament. 5 April 2023.
  2. ^ "The role of Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service". Health and Safety Executive. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  3. ^ "Solicitor General". Scottish Government. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  4. ^ "What are the roles of Scotland's lord advocate, and do they clash?". BBC. BBC News. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  5. ^ a b Styles, Scott Crichton (18 June 2021). "Scott Crichton Styles: Scotland's Lord Advocate will always be accused of bias unless the role is changed". Press and Journal. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  6. ^ "Research to inform consultation on splitting role of lord advocate begins". Scottish Legal. Scottish Legal News. Retrieved 1 January 2024.
  7. ^ "Lord Advocate role review delay attacked". Law Society of Scotland. Law Society of Scotland. Retrieved 1 January 2024.
  8. ^ "I will give review into my role 'appropriate assistance', says new Lord Advocate". Shropshire Star. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  9. ^ "Our leadership and structure". Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  10. ^ "Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf to 'fully investigate' concerns messages not handed to UK COVID Inquiry". Sky News. Retrieved 2 January 2024.
  11. ^ "No. 11770". The Edinburgh Gazette. 20 October 1905. p. 1001.
  12. ^ "No. 11787". The Edinburgh Gazette. 19 December 1905. p. 1313.
  13. ^ "No. 12118". The Edinburgh Gazette. 19 February 1909. p. 173.
  14. ^ "No. 12242". The Edinburgh Gazette. 26 April 1910. p. 444.
  15. ^ "No. 12414". The Edinburgh Gazette. 8 December 1911. p. 1293.
  16. ^ "No. 12613". The Edinburgh Gazette. 4 November 1913. p. 1143.
  17. ^ "No. 13583". The Edinburgh Gazette. 2 April 1920. p. 1008.
  18. ^ "No. 13797". The Edinburgh Gazette. 21 March 1922. p. 511.
  19. ^ "No. 32728". The London Gazette. 11 July 1922. p. 5193.
  20. ^ "No. 13867". The Edinburgh Gazette. 17 November 1922. p. 1779.
  21. ^ "No. 13909". The Edinburgh Gazette. 13 April 1923. p. 579.
  22. ^ "No. 14000". The Edinburgh Gazette. 26 February 1924. pp. 291–292.
  23. ^ "No. 14076". The Edinburgh Gazette. 18 November 1924. p. 1439.
  24. ^ "No. 14193". The Edinburgh Gazette. 1 January 1926. p. 1.
  25. ^ "No. 33492". The London Gazette. 7 May 1929. p. 3007.
  26. ^ "No. 14558". The Edinburgh Gazette. 21 June 1929. p. 650.
  27. ^ "No. 14809". The Edinburgh Gazette. 17 November 1931. p. 1226.
  28. ^ "No. 15005". The Edinburgh Gazette. 3 October 1933. p. 809.
  29. ^ "No. 15174". The Edinburgh Gazette. 17 May 1935. p. 424.
  30. ^ "No. 15231". The Edinburgh Gazette. 3 December 1935. p. 1021.
  31. ^ "No. 34301". The London Gazette. 3 July 1936. p. 4225.
  32. ^ "No. 15820". The Edinburgh Gazette. 13 June 1941. p. 305.
  33. ^ "No. 16266". The Edinburgh Gazette. 21 September 1945. p. 323.
  34. ^ "No. 16424". The Edinburgh Gazette. 28 March 1947. p. 123.
  35. ^ "No. 16486". The Edinburgh Gazette. 31 October 1947. p. 453.
  36. ^ "No. 16906". The Edinburgh Gazette. 9 November 1951. p. 565.
  37. ^ "No. 17251". The Edinburgh Gazette. 14 January 1955. p. 19.
  38. ^ "No. 17822". The Edinburgh Gazette. 17 May 1960. p. 295.
  39. ^ "No. 18240". The Edinburgh Gazette. 28 April 1964. p. 271.
  40. ^ "No. 18292". The Edinburgh Gazette. 23 October 1964. p. 671.
  41. ^ "No. 18398". The Edinburgh Gazette. 29 October 1965. p. 713.
  42. ^ "No. 18612". The Edinburgh Gazette. 7 November 1967. p. 887.
  43. ^ "No. 18892". The Edinburgh Gazette. 30 June 1970. p. 567.
  44. ^ "No. 19151". The Edinburgh Gazette. 7 November 1972. p. 993.
  45. ^ "No. 46248". The London Gazette. 26 March 1974. p. 3898.
  46. ^ "No. 20497". The Edinburgh Gazette. 25 May 1979. p. 559.
  47. ^ "First minister Alex Salmond unveils enlarged cabinet". BBC News. 19 May 2011. Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  48. ^ "Holyrood approves James Wolffe and Alison Di Rollo as top legal officers". The Scotsman. 1 June 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016.

External links[edit]