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 shall not be 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 years, and like a judge of the Superior Courts, he may not be removed from his office except by the President upon a resolution by the House of Representatives. This motion must obtain not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the members of Parliament. Normally a request for such removal is based on the ground of proved inability to perform the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or proved misbehaviour.
The law officers serving in his Chambers appear for Government in the Superior Courts in its civil and criminal jurisdiction, as a Court of Appeal or Constitutional Court, and before the Court of Magistrates in Malta and Gozo. These law officers advise Government on all legal matters and draft documents or 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 of the Council of Europe. This activity enables Government to be better informed on the workings of the Council of Europe and to contribute actively to the elaboration of international conventions taking into account domestic concerns. This participation in international fora facilitates the process of signing and/or ratification of conventions where appropriate.
Law officers also participate from time to time in international seminars and meetings on legal matters and this activity helps them keep abreast of legal developments abroad. It is indispensable for government legal officers to have a broad legal outlook which enables them to give the best possible legal advice to government, as government has to operate not only domestically but also within the international community.
The Attorney General is also the Public Prosecutor before the Criminal Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal. Certain prosecutions initiated by the Police require the previous consent of the Attorney General.
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. In view of the bilingual edition of all legal enactments, the Attorney General’s Office is also responsible for the translation of all laws.
All subsidiary legislation is cleared from the legal aspect, translated and published under the supervision of the Attorney General’s Office. About 35 Acts are passed through Parliament and 350 Legal Notices are currently published in the Government Gazette each year. Moreover, some 40 Bills are also drafted or vetted and similarly published in the Gazette, besides several other Bills and Legal Notices which are drafted or vetted and published in subsequent years.
Attorney General: Dr. Peter Grech LL.D