Nova Scotia. Department of Justice

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Nova Scotia. Department of Justice

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        Dates of existence



        A "King's attorney" (attorney general) was first appointed in 1749 to conduct all crown prosecutions and provide legal advice to the government. As one the five great officers of state, the Attorney General was usually a member of the governing Council and, after the advent of democratic government in 1848, always a member of the Executive Council (Cabinet). Under the first modern Public Service Act (1900), the Attorney General, the senior law officer of the crown, became a department of government, fully responsible for the administration of law and justice in all its aspects. In 1987 responsibility for policing and correctional services was transferred to the new Department of the Solicitor General. In 1990 responsibility for public prosecutions was transferred to an independent Director of Public Prosecutions. In 1993 responsibility for policing and correctional services reverted to the attorney general and the department was renamed Department of Justice. The attorney general, ex officio, is minister of justice. The attorney general as law officer of the crown is the official legal adviser to, and the legal member of, the Cabinet. As minister of justice the attorney general ensures that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with the law, and has the superintendence of all matters connected with the administration of justice not within the federal jurisdiction. The attorney general advises other ministers on all matters of law concerning their departments or arising in the administration of acts for which they are responsible. The attorney general has the settlement and approval of all instruments issued under the Great Seal. The attorney general has the regulation and conduct of all litigation for or against the crown or any department in respect of any subject within the authority or jurisdiction of the government. The attorney general has the functions and powers that belong to the office of the attorney general of England by law or usage as far as applicable. The attorney general likewise has the functions and powers which, previous to the coming into force of the Constitution Act, 1867, belonged to the office of attorney general of Nova Scotia and which, under the provisions of that act, are within the scope of the powers of the Nova Scotia Government, including responsibility for affairs and matters relating to courts and prosecutions. The attorney general also has such other powers and shall discharge such other duties as are conferred and imposed by any act of the legislature or by order in council made under the authority of an act.


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            Notes: Authority record based on Revised Statutes of Nova Scotia: 1900 c. 10 s. 3; Statutes of Nova Scotia 1988 c. 30, 1990 c. 21, 1993 c. 38; Orders in Council 87-1455 (3 December 1987); 93-352 (8 April 1993).

            Maintenance notes

            2016-10-13 Added - John Macleod