House of Lords Library

Publishing Government Legal Advice

Published Wednesday, November 7, 2018

On 4 November 2018, David Davis, the former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, called for the Government to publish the legal advice it has received about the Chequers proposal—the Government’s proposal for a future relationship with the EU. The DUP, Labour and the Liberal Democrats echoed this demand on 7 November 2018. Throughout the Brexit process, there have been calls for the Government to confirm whether it has received legal advice, and to publish any such advice. In the UK, law officers of the crown are responsible for providing legal advice to the government. Successive governments have observed a long-standing convention that the advice they receive from law officers is not disclosed outside government. This House of Lords Briefing provides a brief overview of the role of the law officers and the convention on the publication of their advice. It also provides examples of how the government has referred to the convention in response to calls for it to make public the full advice that it had received from law officers. The final section discusses demands for the government to publish the legal advice that it has been given in regards to Brexit.

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Lords Library notes LLN-2018-0115

Authors: Nicola Newson; Sarah Tudor

Topic: Ministers

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