Solicitor-General of New Zealand

The Solicitor-General of New Zealand is the second law officer of state in New Zealand. The Solicitor-General is also head of the Crown Law Office, that comprises lawyers employed to represent the Attorney-General in court proceedings in New Zealand.[1] The current Solicitor-General is Una Jagose.

Under section 9A of the Constitution Act 1986 the Solicitor-General can exercise almost all of the statutory functions conferred on the Attorney-General. As the non-political Law Officer, the Solicitor-General has traditionally assumed responsibility for the exercise of those functions that should be undertaken independently of the political process. The Crown Law Office supervises the prosecution of major criminal offences, with most prosecutions being conducted by regional law firms that act as Crown Solicitors.


New Zealand has had its own Attorney-General since 1841[2] and the position of Solicitor-General was established in 1867[3] which was initially a political office as it currently is in England. In 1875 the office became a permanent government position. Walter Scott Reid the first to hold the position. He remained in the position for the next 25 years. During this period the roles and responsibilities of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General were the subject of some debate and clarification by the Supreme Court.

In 1854 the General Assembly introduced a bill to establish, among others, the position of Solicitor-General.[4] James O'Neill opposed the establishment of the position because each Province had its own Solicitor and thought that they together with the Attorney-General were sufficient.[5] Whether the position was established is difficult to determine. Papers in 1854 refer to Sewell as the late Solicitor-General, yet his biography says he was Attorney-General. Also, in 1861 reference is made of Travers being offered the position, but Travers had not been in office since 1859.[6]

When William Cunningham MacGregor was appointed judge in 1923, the Attorney-General, Francis Bell discontinued the office of Solicitor General, with the tasks to be carried out by the Principal Law Officer, to which office Arthur Fair was appointed.[7] Fair was eventually appointed Solicitor-General in May 1925, and at the same time, he was made a King's Counsel.[8]

The current Solicitor-General is Una Jagose, who was appointed in February 2016. Ms Jagose was a former acting head of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and prior to that had spent two years as Deputy Solicitor, Crown Legal Risk at Crown Law. [9] Her predecessor was Michael Heron QC, who was appointed in July 2012.[10] Mr Heron was a former partner of Meredith Connell (the firm that holds the Crown Prosecution warrant in Auckland) and more recently, Russell McVeagh. In turn, his predecessor was Dr David Collins QC, who was appointed as a Judge of the High Court in March 2012. There has been a usual practice of appointing the Solicitor General as a Judge of the High Court, although former Solicitor-General Terrence Arnold's predecessor, John McGrath QC, was appointed to the Court of Appeal in July 2000 (Justice McGrath was subsequently appointed to the Supreme Court in May 2005. Justice Arnold was appointed to the Supreme Court in June 2013).

List of Solicitors-General


  1. Palmer, Geoffrey (13 July 2012). "Law - The judiciary". Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  2. Appointment of William Martin as Attorney-General: "Untitled Notice" (29 September 1841) 11 The New Zealand Gazette 71
  3. Appointment of The Honorable John Hyde Harris as Solicitor-General: "Untitled Notice" (28 October 1867) 56 The New Zealand Gazette 409 at 411.
  4. "Executive Government Bill". The Wellington Independent. IX (917). Wellington, New Zealand. 26 July 1854. p. 4. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  5. "House of Representatives". Daily Southern Cross. XI (731). 30 June 1854. p. 3. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  6. "Editorial". The Colonist. Wellington, New Zealand. IV (343): 2. 1 February 1861. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  7. "Principal Law Officer". Auckland Star. LIV (220). 14 September 1923. p. 7. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  8. 1 2 "Arthur Fair, K.C.". New Zealand Truth (1048). 24 December 1925. p. 4. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  9. "Una Jagose appointed New Zealand's next solicitor-general". Fairfax New Zealand. 16 November 2015.
  10. "Appointment of Solicitor-General" (16 August 2012) 98 The New Zealand Gazette 2673 at 2743.
  11. Wilson 1985, p. 63.
  12. Scholefield 1940b, p. 221.
  13. "Evening Post". The Evening Post. LX (106). 1 November 1900. p. 4. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  14. Scholefield 1940a, p. 255.
  15. "The Public Service". The Press. LXVI (13646). 1 February 1910. p. 8. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  16. Frame, Alex. "Salmond, John William". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 2 April 2014.
  17. Scholefield 1940b, pp. 17f.
  18. "The Solicitor-Generalship". Otago Daily Times (17973). 28 June 1920. p. 4. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  19. "New Judge". The Evening Post. CXVII (75). 29 March 1934. p. 10. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  20. "Crown Law Office". The Evening Post. CXVII (112). 14 May 1934. p. 10. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  21. "New Judge". The Evening Post. CXXXIX (28). 2 February 1945. p. 6. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  22. "Law Office". The Evening Post. CXXXIX (123). 26 May 1945. p. 8. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  23. "Una Jagose appointed New Zealand's next solicitor-general". Fairfax New Zealand. 16 November 2015.


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