Attorney General’s Department [III] was created on 5 April 1995 when the Department of Courts Administration was abolished, all of its branches were added to the new and enlarged Attorney General’s Department (1) and the administrative services of both departments were merged. (2) Briefly the Attorney General’s Department was ‘responsible for providing specialist legal advice to State Government departments, statutory authorities and interested bodies, court support and dispute resolution services, and advisory and administrative services, including legal and legislative research for the Attorney General.’ (3)
The Department played a leading role in Australian law and justice by representation on the Standing Committee of Attorneys General and the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration and participated in a national benchmarking project to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the courts, The Attorney General’s Department also worked co-operatively with other states to develop a national uniformity in
regulation of corporations;
trustee company legislation and
birth death and marriage registration
The process of law reform continued with developments including updating the law of evidence, and further regulation of professions. (4)
The Attorney General’s Department was an amalgamation of 41 separate ‘cost centres’ arranged into nine programs. Some of the bodies were statutory while others were various administrative divisions created by the Department. The reporting lines of the bodies within each program were not necessarily uniform with the various cost centres reporting to the Director General, Deputy Director General or the Directors Court Support or Management Services. The programs were Commercial Services; Court Services; Court Support Services; Human Rights; Justice Policy and Planning; Legal Services; Regulatory Services and Information and Management Services. (5)
The commercial services were the Crown Solicitor’s Office and the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Court Services program included the Supreme, District, Local Land and Environment, Compensation and Industrial Courts.
Court Support Services program included the following offices Reporting services; Sheriff’s Office; NSW Law Libraries; Law Courts Library and Community Justice Centres.
Human Rights program included the following bodies: Anti-discrimination Board; Equal Opportunity Tribunal; Office of the Protective Commissioner; Office of the Public Guardian; Privacy Committee and Victims Compensation Tribunal
Justice Policy and Planning program included the Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee; Bureau of Crime Statics and Research; Criminal Law Review Division; Juvenile Crime Prevention Division; Legislation and Policy Division and Law Reform Commission
The Legal Services Program included the Building Industry Task Force; Debt Recovery Office; Legal Representation Office; Public Defenders; Legal Management Service; and the Attorney General’s Library
The Regulatory Services Program included the Legal Practitioners Administration Board; Legal Profession Advisory Council; Legal Services Tribunal; Office of the Legal Services Commissioner and the Professional Standards Council
The Information Management Services consisted of the Finance and Strategic Services Division; Management Services Division; Community Relations Division and Communications and Media Division. (6)
This structure remained with only minor variations until 2000.
In 2002 there were 38 business units. The arrangement of units into programs had ceased and each office was responsible to one of four executives.
The Crown Solicitor’s Office, Office of the Protective Commissioner; Office of the Public Guardian; Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages; Corporate Human Resources; Management Services and Executive and Strategic services were responsible to the Director General
The following business units reported to the Assistant Director General Community and Regulatory Services: Anti-discrimination Board; Privacy NSW; Victims Services; Community Justice Centres; Community Relations Division; Legal Management Service; Legal Representation Office; Public Defenders Office; LawAccess NSW; Legal Practitioners Admission Board; Legal Profession Advisory Council; Office of the Legal Services Commissioner and the Professional Standards Council.
The following business units reported to the Assistant Director General Court and Tribunal Services: Supreme Court; Industrial Relations Commission; Land and Environment Court; Compensation Court; District Court; Local Courts; Dust Diseases Tribunal; Administrative Decisions Tribunal; Library Services Division; Law Courts Library; Office of the Sheriff and Reporting Services Branch.
The following business units were responsible to the Assistant Director General Policy and Crime Prevention: Aboriginal Justice Advisory Council; Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research; Crime Prevention Division; Criminal Law Review Division; Law Reform Commission and Legislation and Policy Division. (7)
The Department's official website LawLink NSW was launched on 11 June 1998. The site contained extensive information about law in New South Wales. Initially it contained over 3,500 documents and covered legal rights and obligations, plain English resources on using legal services, the facility to read and comment on law reform proposals and links to other legal sources throughout New South Wales. (8)
From 1 July 2009 the Attorney General's Department [III] was abolished and its functions were transferred to the new Principal Department, the Department of Justice and Attorney General. (9)
(1) NSW Government Gazette, 5 April 1995, p.1860 (q).
(2) Report of the Attorney General’s Department for the year ended 30 June 1995, p.9.
(3) NSW Government Directory October 1995, p.81.
(4) Report of the Attorney General’s Department for the year ended 30 June 1995, p.2.
(5) Ibid., p.7.
(6) Loc. cit.
(7) Report of the Attorney General’s Department for the year ended 30 June 2002, p.7.
(8) Report of the Attorney General’s Department for the year ended 30 June 1998, p.66.
(9) Public Sector Employment and Management (Departmental Amalgamations) Order 2009 (2009 No 352) cls. 20; notified on NSW Legislation website, 27 July 2009.