|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Following separation from New South Wales and the establishment of the Crown Colony of Victoria, responsibility for the management of the colony's legal system including the administration of the courts was shared by two colonial officers, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, both of whom were members of the Legislative Council. The Attorney General was also a member of the Executive Council. The practice of joint ministerial responsibility was continued after the achievement of responsible government in 1855 until 1951 when, under the provisions of the Solicitor General Act 1951 (No.5604) the office of the Solicitor General became non-ministerial and the Attorney General assumed responsibility for those functions previously administered by the Solicitor General. In 1985 the Premier (VRG 50) became responsible for the Solicitor General. In some ministries during the period 1861 to 1891, the Solicitor General was known as the Minister of Justice.
Although the division of ministerial responsibilities was not constant for the entire period 1851 to 1951, the Attorney General was usually responsible for the administration of the Supreme Court and its officers and their staff who were employed within the Law Department. The Officers of the Supreme Court included the Master in Equity (also known as the Master in Equity and Lunacy 1867-1923) (VA 2624), the Master of the Supreme Court (VA 2613), the Registrar of Probates (VA 2620), the Sheriff and the Prothonotary. The Attorney General was responsible for Judges' Associates who attended the Judges, empanelled juries and kept records of verdicts and the Judges' notes.
The Solicitor General/Minister of Justice were traditionally responsible for the staff and administration of the County Courts, Courts of General Sessions, Courts of Requests, Courts of Petty Sessions, Courts of Mines, Licensing Courts, Coroners Courts and Children's Courts and were thus responsible for Police (later Stipendiary) Magistrates, Wardens, Clerks of Court and Coroners.
Currently, the Attorney-General, through the Department of Justice remains responsible for the administration of the courts.