The Attorney-General's Chambers has existed since 1698 and there have been many changes over the years.
The Attorney-General is the main legal advisor to the Government of Bermuda and provides public access to Bermuda's laws. From 1698 to 1999, the Attorney-General was also the main prosecutor in all criminal matters in the Bermuda courts.
Attorneys-General are appointed by the Governor under the Constitution. Over 53 people have served as Attorney-General of Bermuda. They were all public officers until 1999, and mostly men. Through the years, the Attorney-General's Chambers have grown owing to the development and growth of Bermuda.
On 9 November 1998, the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) won its first general election and many changes were made. Dame Lois Browne-Evans was appointed as the island's first political Attorney-General. Celebrated as Bermuda's first female lawyer, she is also recognised as the first woman to ever hold this office as she became the island's 41st Attorney-General.
With Government's decision to introduce a political Attorney-General, criminal prosecutions are currently the responsibility of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who handles all criminal matters. This has resulted in two separate and distinct offices. The Attorney-General, however, is still administratively responsible for the DPP, who is otherwise constitutionally independent, and is also Bermuda's Minister of Legal Affairs.
History of Wigs and Gowns
Bermuda is one of Britain's oldest overseas territories and now her largest in population.
Bermuda's legal practice is similar to that of the UK. The judges of the Supreme Court all wear a full bottomed wig and gown. It is the brilliant ermine for criminal proceedings, or somber black in civil cases. Even the barristers appearing in the Supreme Court, Queen's Counsel (QC) and junior barristers, wear the infamous wig and gown. The QCs wear silk gowns and the juniors wear stuff ones.
While the wig has been in fashion since the reign of King George II, it made its debut under Queen Anne in 1702. From the founding days of Bermuda (or, the Somers Islands) in 1609, the wearing of the wig and gown also became the local custom.
The wig is made with horsehair, with its tightly made stiff curls especially made for its wearer. Unlike natural hair, which ages/changes with your age, this is not so for horsehair. Instead, it changes with usage and handling.
The stuff gown worn by junior barristers reminds us of the past - a symbol of the fact that barristers could not sue for their fees. They carried on their backs their collection sacks, into which their grateful clients deposited their financial appreciation. So, the next time you see a barrister in court closely observe the back of the robe over the left shoulder and you will see there is a replica pouch for satisfied clients.
Working and Interning in Chambers
Working in Chambers lets you be involved at the centre of the administration of justice and law. It is interesting and challenging work that lets you work with barristers who have many years of experience.
A career in these Chambers is a chance to work for the Government and people of Bermuda, and to provide an invaluable contribution to the advancement and development of the island.
Chambers welcomes enquiries from potential Pupils with proven academic ability who are interested in public law.