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solicitor-general

solicitor-general. The ‘junior’ of the two law officers of the crown. The precursor of this office was the ‘king's solicitor’ first mentioned in 1461 and the title ‘solicitor-general’ was first used in 1515. From 1525 onwards the office of solicitor-general was a ‘stepping stone’ to the office of attorney-general, whose deputy and subordinate he was. The solicitor-general was accepted without controversy as a member of the House of Commons and although, like the attorney-general, he was a law officer of the crown, he did not incur the same odium politically as he did not prosecute for criminal libel. The solicitor-general was more familiar with Chancery than his colleague and for that reason, on at least one occasion, in 1733, the solicitor-general was created lord chancellor, whereas the attorney-general became lord chief justice. Despite the title, the solicitor-general is a barrister. There is a separate solicitor-general for Scotland, who acts as deputy to the lord advocate.

Maureen Mulholland

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