The Attorney-General’s Department provides legal services to members of the public and to Government, financial services to the public and a small range of other Justice-related services. Legal support is also provided by:
- The Legal Services Commission of South Australia who provide a free advisory service on most legal matters. Phone 1300 366 424 or 8463 3555.
- The Law Society of South Australia, through the Litigation Assistance Fund and referral service, provide assistance in the area of law you require:
- for information on the fund phone 8110 5263
- for a referral service phone 8229 0288 or visit the Law Society of South Australia website.
If you are ineligible for assistance from existing legal services and unable to afford a private solicitor or barrister, phone JusticeNet SA on 8303 5005 or visit the JusticeNet SA website.
The role of the Attorney-General in the legal system
In our legal system, judges and magistrates are independent of Ministers and Members of Parliament. That independence is very important. Parliament makes the law through Acts and Regulations and the judges and magistrates apply the law to the cases that come before them. They make their decisions according to how the law relates to the circumstances of each case.
The Attorney-General is therefore unable to comment on matters presented in court or on judicial decisions.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions prosecutes major indictable offences on behalf of the South Australian community.
Legal services for government
The Crown Solicitor’s Office (CSO) provides a broad litigious practice, providing legal advice and representation to Ministers, government departments and statutory authorities on a daily basis.
The CSO provides legal expertise in the following areas:
- commercial law
- administrative and environmental law
- Native Title
The Crown Solicitor’s Office also provides conveyancing services (for example, title searches and settlements), as well as in-house specialist investigation services offered by the Government Investigations Unit.
The Solicitor-General appears for the State when constitutional issues that affect the interests of the State come before the High Court.
The Solicitor-General also appears in the Full Court of the Supreme Court and other courts in the State on instructions from the Crown Solicitor and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
- Provides legislative drafting and advisory services to the Cabinet and Ministers, South Australian Government departments and agencies, the Parliament and its Committees and members.
- Prepares up-to-date consolidations of all SA legislation (principal and subordinate).
- Maintains a database of all SA legislation and information relating to SA legislation and ensures the legislation and information can be published in print and electronic form.
Guardianship and mental incapacity
The Guardianship Board has the power to make decisions affecting the lives and property of people suffering mental incapacity. It can appoint a guardian to make decisions about where a person should live and their medical and lifestyle decisions.
- The Guardianship Board can also appoint an Administrator to manage the finances and legal affairs of a person suffering mental incapacity.
- The Guardianship Board can appoint the Public Advocate as guardian of last resort when:
- a guardian is needed to make accommodation, lifestyle or medical decisions for a person with a mental incapacity
- there is no other appropriate person to be appointed.
- The Guardianship Board may appoint an administrator to manage the financial and legal affairs of a person with a mental incapacity. It can appoint a:
- family member
- an organisation such as the Public Trustee or a private trustee company.
Once legislation is passed, the new Commissioner for Victims’ Rights will be able to:
- Appoint advocates to appear in Court during sentencing submissions in homicide cases or where the victim has been permanently and totally incapacitated.
- Consult with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) about victim impact statements and plea bargain arrangements and consult with the Court about its practices and procedures and their effects on victims.
- Make submissions to the Court of Criminal Appeal on guideline sentences.
More information is provided on the Commissioner for Victims' Rights website.
Preparation of wills and other documents
The Public Trustee is still most well known for preparing wills and other legal documents. Up to 4,000 Wills are written or revised every year with many third and fourth generation clients choosing Public Trustee to make their last will and testament.
The Client Services (Document Preparation) Team holds all documents in safe custody and provides free information and advice to all members of the South Australian community on:
- Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Enduring Powers of Guardianship.