Organisational Overview

The Crown Law Office is organised to ensure the service provided to its clients is focused, responsive, timely and of high quality.

Crown Law is led by Una Jagose QC - Solicitor-General and Chief Executive Officer.

Reflecting the core functions of the Office, the structure is organised into four groups:

  • Attorney-General’s Group; led by Virginia Hardy, Deputy Solicitor-General
  • Crown Legal Risk Group; led by Aaron Martin, Deputy Solicitor-General
  • Criminal Group; led by Brendan Horsley, Deputy Solicitor-General
  • Strategy and Corporate Group; led by Oliver Valins, Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Operating Officer
  • System Leadership Group; led by Katie Elkin, Deputy Chief Executive, System Leadership

The Deputy Solicitor-General at the head of each legal Practice Group is responsible for the professional development and management of the teams falling under their leadership, and reports to the Solicitor-General/Chief Executive.

In addition to legal teams, Crown Law also features a Strategy and Corporate Group, which supports overall performance under the organisation’s governance and accountability frameworks.

Connected ways of working are valued at Crown Law, and with both legal and corporate groups strongly linked to the wider whole, the organisation’s structure is designed to optimise the co-ordination of work, pooling of knowledge, and delivery of excellent services to Ministers, and government departments and agencies.

The current group/team structure, alongside a profile of associated activities follows:

Attorney General’s Group (Deputy Solicitor-General: Virginia Hardy)

The Attorney General’s Group is comprised of the following teams:

· Constitutional and Human Rights Team

· Treaty Teams

Constitutional and Human Rights Team (Team Managers: Peter Gunn, Daniel Perkins)

The Constitutional and Human Rights Teams provide legal and administrative support to the statutory functions of the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General, and oversee the application of New Zealand Human Rights legislative provisions and case law.

Legal advice and support to the Offices of Attorney-General and Solicitor-General

As the senior and junior Law Officers in New Zealand, the Offices of the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General both have unique legal and administrative support requirements.

The Constitutional and Human Rights Teams provide administrative support to the Attorney-General in his role as the protector of charities, and facilitate a number of international functions including extradition processes, and letters of request for overseas evidence.

The Teams provide advice and support on constitutional issues, including judicial matters, electoral and parliamentary law, and support the Law Officers in their roles in relation to the Coroners Act 2006 and the Adoption Act 1955.

The Teams also support the appointments of Crown Solicitors, Queen’s Counsel and Judges of the Higher Courts and provide advice on international law and matters relating to the Official Information Act 1982 and the Privacy Act 1993.

Provision of Human Rights advice to the New Zealand Government

Touching on many areas of New Zealand legislation and legal procedure, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, and the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993 provide additional impetus to the work of the Constitutional and Human Rights Teams

The Teams possess the knowledge necessary for addressing complex constitutional issues relating to human rights in New Zealand. Areas of legislative and case law expertise include discrimination, habeas corpus, police civil litigation, prisoners’ rights, terrorism, and New Zealand’s obligations under international human rights frameworks.

The Team frequently works with other teams within Crown Law, ensuring advice provided to its clients encapsulates human rights implications and obligations where appropriate.

Treaty Teams (Team Managers: Liesle Theron, Geoffrey Melvin)

The Treaty Teams provide advice to the Government and act on its behalf in relation to the many complex legal and historical issues emerging from the interpretation and application of Treaty of Waitangi principles.

The Teams regularly represent the Crown in the Waitangi Tribunal in relation to historical claims and contemporary issues. Recently, the Teams have also represented the Crown in the Courts - tackling issues associated with the fundamental constitutional question of the status of the Treaty in our domestic law.

In recent years, international obligations affecting New Zealand law have also been incorporated into the expertise and work programmes of the Treaty Teams. The Teams regularly provide advice to departments relating to the increasing presence of contemporary statutory and commercial obligations which have emerged from the Treaty settlement process and the articulation of Treaty principles in legislation.

Criminal Group (Deputy Solicitor-General: Brendan Horsley)

The Criminal Group is comprised of the following teams:

· Criminal Teams

· Public Prosecutions Unit

Criminal Teams (Team Managers: Mark Lillico, Charlotte Brook)

The Criminal Teams discharge the statutory responsibility of the Solicitor-General in representing the Crown in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court on all criminal appeals. Over 450 oral appeals are heard in the Court of Appeal each year and approximately 60 applications for leave to appeal are filed in the Supreme Court. A small percentage proceed to a substantive hearing.

The second broad area of core work arises from the criminal Law Officer functions. Providing advice to the Solicitor-General is an integral part of the Teams’ work programme, with the spectrum of advice covering requests for Crown appeals and judicial reviews, stays of prosecution, consents to prosecute, witness immunities and a range of other criminal trial matters. International criminal law functions also fall within this Law Officer category. On behalf of the Attorney-General, the Criminal Teams perform the functions of New Zealand’s ‘Central Authority’ for international assistance in relation to criminal matters. The Teams receive and assess all requests made to New Zealand from foreign countries and manage all outgoing requests from New Zealand. The Teams also prepare documentation in support of incoming and outgoing extradition requests and provide oversight to ensure the requirements of the Extradition Act 1999 are met.

The Criminal Teams also provide advice and assistance to the Crown Solicitor Network, as well as keeping Crown Solicitors informed of developments in criminal law through an intranet and a quarterly newsletter. The Crown Solicitors are responsible, pursuant to a Crown warrant, for prosecuting serious crime on behalf of the Crown. They are lawyers in private practice firms, paid by Crown Law in respect of their Crown prosecution work. In addition, the Teams provide advice to government agencies on a wide range of criminal and prosecution matters.

As part of the wider Justice sector, the Teams have an active role in commenting and advising on legislative and policy developments that may impact upon prosecutions, or which otherwise intersect with the work of the Teams. In respect of the prosecution function, the Criminal Teams are leading the implementation of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011. The Teams’ knowledge of criminal law is robust, with particular expertise in the law of evidence, criminal procedure, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, proceeds of crime, and contempt of court.

Crown Legal Risk Group (Deputy Solicitor-General: Aaron Martin)

The Crown Legal Risk Group is comprised of the following teams:

· Public Law Teams

· Revenue Team

Public Law Teams (Team Managers: Nicola Wills; Jenny Catran; Jeremy Prebble)

The Public Law Teams work across a wide variety of subject areas including citizenship and immigration, health, gambling, resource management (including specific areas such as fisheries and Crown minerals), biosecurity, food safety, education, land law (including issues relating to the conservation estate, other land of the Crown, and public works), earthquake recovery, employment, privacy, transport, social security and family law.

The Teams also provide expertise in relation to the powers and functions of government, judicial review of executive action, legislative and parliamentary processes, conduct of large-scale civil litigation, statutory appeals, common law claims against the Crown, and government-led inquiries.

Recognising that these areas of advice extend beyond the boundaries of individual teams, the Public Law Teams collaborate closely with other teams at Crown Law.

Revenue Team (Team Manager: Maria Deligiannis)

The Revenue Team advises and represents the Crown on matters concerning the protection of revenue. The Team provides advice on powers and functions, both statutory and non-statutory, and is involved in a wide range of litigation including tax challenge proceedings, judicial review and appeals against the Crown.

The Team represents its clients in all jurisdictions including Tribunals, the High Court , the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and has a main client base including the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, New Zealand Customs Services and the Treasury.

Particular expertise and strengths within the Team include the conduct of large civil trials, public law (including judicial review), the interpretation and application of the Inland Revenue statutes, trust law, public finance and superannuation.

Strategy and Corporate Group (Deputy Chief Executive/Chief Operating Officer: Oliver Valins)

Leadership and intellectual rigour are integral to Crown Law – both in the legal services provided and in the role of the organisation as an accountable government department.

Through strategy-setting, policy analysis, performance management and operational support, the Strategy and Corporate Group seeks to position the organisation for maximum effectiveness as it fulfils its purpose of serving the Crown and upholding the rule of law.

Strategy and Corporate is comprised of four areas:

Human Resources Team (Chief People Officer: Anthea South)

Crown Law’s principal asset is its people. The Human Resources team is comprised of a Senior HR Business Partner, a Senior HR Advisor, a Payroll/HR Advisor and an HR Coordinator. The team works with a holistic view of the organisation to administer existing policies, provide advice, manage change and develop and implement modernised business strategies to unleash Crown Law’s capacity and capability to deliver on its strategic objectives.

Finance and Performance Team (Chief Financial Officer: Aaron Crookston)

The Finance and Performance Team provides financial and non-financial advice and information for Managers, employees and Crown Law’s external stakeholders. The Team helps the business to set and measure delivery against performance objectives and to meet the Government’s expectations regarding the use of public resources. They also oversee the general accounting and business analysis work programmes designed to support the day-to-day operations of Crown Law.

Information and Research Group (Chief Information Officer: Nicola Gallacher)

Given the nature of Crown Law business, the protection and integrity of information held by the organisation is of the utmost importance. The Information and Research Group collectively seeks to ensure that practices surrounding information management are robust and compliant with legislation governing the keeping of records at public sector agencies. The group comprises the IT, Library and Research, Historical Research and Records teams.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Team maintains Crown Law’s technological infrastructure, undertaking both business-as-usual and project work. A key priority is to align Crown Law ICT systems with an all-of-government (AOG) approach to ICT infrastructure.

The Research, Library and Records Teams ensure that Crown Law Counsel can readily locate the information they need to support their work. In conjunction with the Chief Information Officer, they also ensure Crown Law’s information management and record keeping practices are consistent with overarching policies issued by the Chief Archivist.

Operational Services Group (Manager: Sophie Mexsom)

The Operational Services Group provides high quality administrative and business services to enable Crown Law to deliver collaborative, indispensable legal service to the government. We take a business partnering approach to delivering professional, customer-centered services.

The Operational Services Group is made up of four teams:

Legal Support 1 – provide personal administrative support to counsel in the Crown Legal Risk group

Legal Support 2 – provide personal administrative support to counsel in the Attorney General and Criminal groups.

Litigation Enablement Team – provide discovery services, support with litigation including complex projects , and coordinate Crown Law’s criminal appeals.

Business Services team – provide services to maintain the smooth running of the Crown Law office.

Overall, the Strategy and Corporate approach at Crown Law seeks to empower all employees, and the organisation as a whole. With the legal and corporate teams working in close collaboration, Crown Law is positioned to optimise delivery on its vision of providing a collaborative, indispensable legal service to the Government.

System Leadership Group (Deputy Chief Executive, System Leadership: Katie Elkin)

The System Leadership Group was established in November 2019 and provides support and leadership across the wider Government legal system.

The Group consists of the Government Legal Network (GLN) Programmes and Capability Team and the System Advice Team.

The GLN Programmes and Capability Team supports the Government Legal Network and the Solicitor General’s leadership of the legal profession across the Crown.

The System Advice Team is responsible for a range of system-wide legal advice projects and initiatives.

The System Advice Team also incorporates Crown Law’s policy function which supports the Attorney-General and contributes to policy work, undertaken by other agencies, which is relevant to the functions of the Law Officers and Crown Law.

Crown Law should be consulted by agencies working on policy and legislative proposals which may:

  • have implications for the prosecution of crime (mainly criminal justice proposals);
  • affect any of the other Law Officer functions such as the appointment of the judiciary, protection of charities, decision-making on second inquests, the role as the Government’s legal advisor; or
  • affect the operations of the Crown Law Office.