Request to Crown Law Office for legal advice given to Minister

Information not held
Legislation:
Official Information Act 1982
Section 18
Legislation display text:
Official Information Act 1982, s 18(g)
Agency:
Crown Law Office
Ombudsman:
Sir Brian Elwood
Case number(s):
W44062
Issue date:
Language:
English

Request to Crown Law Office for legal advice given to a Minister—no information falling within the scope of the specific request—legal advice had been given by Attorney-General—information held solely on behalf of Attorney-General as first Law Officer of the Crown—not official information

A request was made to the Crown Law Office for any advice given to a particular Minister on a particular issue.

Investigation revealed that the Office had not been asked for advice by the Minister concerned. The advice had been sought from the Attorney-General who had responded in his capacity as the first Law Officer of the Crown.

While all Attorney-General files are physically located within the Crown Law Office building, those files do not constitute Office records. They are held by the Office solely on behalf of the Attorney-General, as the first Law Officer of the Crown.

The Attorney-General, as the Chief Law Officer of the Crown, is not as such a Minister of the Crown and therefore is not subject to the OIA.      

Accordingly, the information sought by the requester from the Office was not held by it and the request could be refused under section 18(g) of the Act.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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