Institutional strengthening of the Attorney-General’s Chambers
There have been many comments received expressing concern over the current organization and capability of the AG Chambers to provide the desired “quick” turnaround for legal opinions. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the AG Chambers both recognise the issues. However, notwithstanding that Ministries and some entities engage their own counsel; legal matters of significance still require AG’s approval, which sometimes causes duplication of efforts and delays in response due to the volume of requests. It has also been noted that, sometimes lawyers in ministries/entities provide legal advice without the appropriate level of consultation with the AG Chambers and that ramifications from “inadequate advice” have occurred. Conversely, some lawyers in the ministries/entities at times simply forward requests for legal advice directly to the AG without working up a draft opinion first, which creates inefficiencies.
Past interventions have also revealed room for improving efficiencies and workflow within the AG Chambers. For example, there are no mechanisms in place to share priority items and files of the AG Chambers with the Minister of Justice. Moreover, there is a heavy workload at the AG Chambers, and requests for advice at times sit in cue for long periods of time. Additionally, the current legal staff complement is forty two (42) inclusive of the Hon. Attorney General, two Part Time Consultants, and two paralegals. This “lack of resources” is compounded by the fact that from a human resources perspective, there is limited room for professional mobility and progress within the small legal groups in the various Ministries.
To respond to the current situation the MoJ has been in consultation with the Department of Justice Canada (Justice Canada), with the view of identifying a possible solution to the issues. In this regard, Justice Canada has proposed to provide assistance under the JUST Programme. This assistance is scheduled to commence in 3rd quarter of this fiscal year and provide MoJ with a set of recommendations by the end of the 4th quarter.