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Office of the Attorney General

The Office of Attorney General is established in terms of the Constitution, whereby the Attorney General is appointed by the President acting on the advice of the Prime Minister. A person is eligible to hold office as Attorney General if he is qualified for appointment as a judge of the Superior Courts according to the Constitution. 

In the exercise of his powers to institute, undertake or discontinue criminal proceedings as conferred to him by any law which authorises him to exercise that power in his individual judgment, the Attorney General is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. 

The Attorney General vacates his office when he attains the age of sixty-five years, and like a judge of the Superior Courts, he may not be removed from office except by the President upon a resolution by the House of Representatives. The motion for such a resolution must obtain not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the members of Parliament. A request for such removal must be based on the ground of proved inability to perform the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or proved misbehaviour. 

The Office is also regulated by the Attorney General Ordinance (Chapter 90 of the Laws of Malta) and is mainly divided into two units dealing with Civil, Administrative and Constitutional law matters and with Criminal law and Prosecution matters respectively. Each of the said units is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and also takes care of European Union Law issues and of Mutual Legal Assistance with other countries in its field. Some lawyers within the Civil, Administrative and Constitutional Law Unit are specialised in European Union Law and support the Office in general on the subject. 

The law officers serving at the Office of the Attorney General plead for Government in the Superior Courts in their civil and constitutional jurisdiction (the First Hall of the Civil Court, the Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court), before the Inferior Courts (the Court of Magistrates) and before tribunals established by law and in arbitration proceedings.  The law officers advise Government on all legal matters, draft and examine legal documents and agreements and instruct government officials on matters, that entail the interpretation of legal issues or principles.

A number of law officers attend regular meetings of specialised Committees and working groups within the legal structures of the institutions of the European Union, the Council of Europe and international organisations. 

The Attorney General is also the Public Prosecutor before the Criminal Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal. Certain prosecutions require the prior consent of the Attorney General in order to be initiated by the Police. 

The Office of the Attorney General is also a member of the International Association of Prosecutors and participates in the work of Eurojust and other networks of prosecutors. 

The Office of the Attorney General also acts as the competent authority for the processing of mutual assistance requests in criminal matters as well as the competent authority for the service of documents in civil and commercial matters and for the taking of evidence in civil matters. 

It is also the function of the Attorney General to advise Government on proposed legislation, to draft the necessary Bills, and to attend the sittings of the House of Representatives during the passage of such Bills in order to advise the Ministers concerned and draft any amendments which might be deemed necessary particularly at Parliamentary Committee Stage. In view of the bilingual edition of all legal enactments, the Attorney General’s Office is also responsible for the translation of all laws, a function which it performs through its Legislation Unit.

The Legislation Unit of the Office of the Attorney General is also responsible for keeping the Laws of Malta website ( updated. 

The Attorney General also acts as Government Agent before the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. 

The law officers of the Office of the Attorney General are also obliged to follow a Code of Ethics for Advocates and Legal Procurators specific to the Office and published in the Government Gazette apart from Codes of Ethics regulating the legal profession and the public service in general. 

Attorney General: Dr. Peter Grech LL.D