Northern Ireland Protocol: Legal Opinion

Attorney General written question – answered at on 20 May 2022.

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Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Attorney General

To ask the Attorney General, whether the cost of the most recent external legal advice procured by the Government on matters relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol was above or below the level that would normally require a competitive tender process under the provisions of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and associated guidance.

Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Attorney General

To ask the Attorney General, whether details of the Government's most recent procurement of external legal advice on matters relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol have been published on the Contracts Finder website; and if she will publish (a) the award letter and (b) the statement of requirements arising from that procurement process.

Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Attorney General

To ask the Attorney General, whether she was personally involved in the most recent process of deciding which individual or organisation should be paid out of public funds for the provision of external legal advice on matters relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk The Solicitor-General

Whether or not the Attorney General sought advice from external counsel in this case, and associated information, relates to her function as a Law Officer and chief legal adviser to the Government. It is a longstanding convention, accepted by governments of all parties, not to disclose whether the Law Officers have given legal advice or the contents of any advice. This convention protects the Law Officers’ ability to give full and frank legal advice on some of the most contentious and difficult issues the Government will be considering.

The Attorney General and the Attorney General’s Office are subject to the same requirements and oversight in relation to the use of public funds as any other minister and Government department respectively, as set out in relevant guidance from HM Treasury.

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