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The Role of the Solicitor-General

Negotiating Law, Politics and the Public Interest

By: Gabrielle Appleby
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Published: 18-10-2018
Format: Paperback
Edition: 1st
Extent: 368
ISBN: 9781509924721
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Dimensions: 234 x 156 mm
RRP: £36.99
Online price : £33.29
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About The Role of the Solicitor-General

Behind every government there is an impressive team of hard-working lawyers. In Australia, the Solicitor-General leads that team. A former Attorney-General once said, 'The Solicitor-General is next to the High Court and God.' And yet the role of government lawyers in Australia, and specifically the Solicitor-General as the most senior of government lawyers, is under-theorised and under-studied.

The Role of the Solicitor-General: Negotiating Law, Politics and the Public Interest goes behind the scenes of government – drawing from interviews with over 45 government and judicial officials – to uncover the history, theory and practice of the Australian Solicitor-General. The analysis reveals a role that is of fundamental constitutional importance to ensuring both the legality and the integrity of government action, thus contributing to the achievement of rule-of-law ideals. The Solicitor-General also works to defend government action and prosecute government policies in the court, and thus performs an important role as messenger between the political and judicial branches of government.

But the Solicitor-General's position, as both an internal integrity check on government and an external warrior for government, gives rise to competing pressures: between the law, politics and the public interest. The office of the Solicitor-General in Australia has evolved many characteristics across the almost two centuries of its history in an attempt to navigate these tensions. These pressures are not unique to the Australian context. The understanding of the Australian position provided by this book is informed by, and will inform, comparative analysis of the role of government lawyers across the world.

Table Of Contents

Part I: Introducing the Solicitor-General
1. The Solicitor-General and the Constitution
2. The Law Officers: An Historical and Comparative Introduction
3. The Evolution of an Australian Solicitor-General
4. Counsel for the Crown
Part III: Negotiating the Tensions
5. The Solicitor-General as Adviser
6. The Solicitor-General as Advocate
7. Independence
8. Conclusions


“This book is a pioneer in undertaking a full- scale examination of the office of solicitor-general and in analysing and explaining the functions and responsibilities which attach to that office.” –  Journal of the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association

“Appleby's book has the virtue of asserting a more principled and high-minded approach to the office that is likely to form the basis of the future understanding of the office.” –  Anne Twomey, UNSW Law Journal

“There is no doubt that the author has managed to describe and create an interest in the office of the
Solicitor-General, which up until now has been little known and of a lesser interest to the legal community, let alone the general public. It is hoped that the publication of this book will stimulate both law academics and students to gain a greater knowledge of an office, which as the text has illustrated, can have a significant bearing on Australian Constitutional issues.
” –  Emeritus Professor David Barker AM Editor, Legal Education Digest

“(...) this is a book of outstanding utility and quality. Appleby has combined research and analysis in a practical, illuminating and interesting manner. Her integration of the history and experience of the office of the Solicitor-General into the constitutional setting is illuminating, and gives rise to numerous practical and theoretical issues, with which she grapples. There is plenty of material to stimulate discussion about the office and
functions of the Solicitor-General.
” –  The Hon John Doyle AC QC, Adelaide Law Review

“This book is at once topical and important, drawing on a legal, historical, comparative and empirical analysis to illuminate the depth, breadth, nuance and richness of the Solicitor General's role” –  YEE-FUI NG RMIT University, Australia, Social & Legal Studies

“Dr Appleby has carefully drawn many threads together to reach conclusions about the unique aspects of this peculiar legal office. It is not only a learned work; it is also a vivid and readable work. It is also an entirely original work based on her personal and fresh research. That it was the product not of an experienced academic but of a student writing her PhD thesis is remarkable.” –  The Hon Justice W Sofronoff, President, Queensland Court of Appeal, Australian Law Journal

“The enduring value of Appleby's book is that it gives a comprehensive, and principled, analysis of the office in both theory and practice. The rarity of this book is that it was published moments before it was most urgently needed.” –  Fiona Roughley, Australian Journal of Administrative Law

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