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Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)

Ministry of Justice
Welsh: Y Weinyddiaeth Gyfiawnder

Headquarters, 102 Petty France, London
Ministerial Department overview
Formed 2007
Jurisdiction United Kingdom, England and Wales in respect of certain devolved matters
Headquarters 102 Petty France
Westminster, London, SW1H 9AJ
Employees over 77,000
Annual budget £8.2 billion & £400 million capital expenditure in 2011-12 [1]
Minister responsible The Rt Hon. Chris Grayling, MP, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor
Ministerial Department executive Ursula Brennan, Permanent Secretary and Clerk of the Crown in Chancery
Child agencies Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service
Legal Aid Agency
National Offender Management Service
Office of the Public Guardian
The National Archives
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the United Kingdom

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is a ministerial department of the UK Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor (a combined position). The department is also responsible for areas of constitutional policy not transferred in 2010 to the Deputy Prime Minister, human rights law and information rights law across the UK.

The ministry was formed in May 2007 when some functions of the Home Secretary were combined with the Department for Constitutional Affairs.[2] The latter had replaced the Lord Chancellor's Department in 2003.

Its stated priorities are to reduce re-offending and protect the public, to provide access to justice, to increase confidence in the justice system, and uphold people’s civil liberties.[3] The Secretary of State is the minister responsible to Parliament for the judiciary, the court system and prisons and probation in England and Wales, with some additional UK-wide responsibilities e.g. the UK Supreme Court and judicial appointments by the Crown.


  • Responsibilities 1
    • UK-wide 1.1
    • England and Wales only 1.2
    • Crown dependencies 1.3
  • Ministers 2
  • Priorities 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5



Prior to the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010, the ministry handled relations between the UK Government and the three devolved administrations: the Northern Ireland Executive; the Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

Responsibility for devolution was then transferred to the re-established position of Deputy Prime Minister, currently Nick Clegg, based in the Cabinet Office. He also assumed responsibility for political and constitutional reform, including reform of the House of Lords, the West Lothian Question, electoral policy, political party funding reform and royal succession.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice have joint responsibility for a commission on a British bill of rights.[4]

The Ministry of Justice retained the following UK-wide remit:

As the office of the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, the ministry is also responsible for policy relating to Lord Lieutenants (i.e. the personal representatives of the Queen), "non-delegated" royal, church and hereditary issues, and other constitutional issues, although the exact definition of these is unclear.[5]

The post of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was abolished in 1922 but Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, however the functions and responsibilities do belong from then to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, currently Theresa Villiers.

England and Wales only

The vast majority of the Ministry of Justice's work takes place in England and Wales. The ministry has no responsibility for devolved criminal justice policy, courts, prisons or probation matters in either Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Within the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for ensuring that all suspected offenders (including children and young people) are appropriately dealt with from the time they are arrested, until convicted offenders have completed their sentence.[6] The ministry is therefore responsible for all aspects of the criminal law, including the scope and content of criminal offences. Its responsibilities extend to the commissioning of prison services (through the National Offender Management Service), rehabilitation and reducing offending, victim support, the probation service and the out-of-court system, the Youth Justice Board, sentencing and parole policy, criminal injuries compensation and the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Other responsibilities limited to England and Wales include the administration of all courts and tribunals, land registration, legal aid and the regulation of legal services, coroners and the investigation of deaths, administrative justice and public law, the maintenance of the judiciary, public guardianship and mental incapacity, supervision of restricted patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and civil law and justice, including the family justice system and claims management regulation.

Crown dependencies

The Ministry of Justice is the department that facilitates communication between the Crown dependencies i.e. Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and the UK Government. These are self-governing possessions of the British monarch, through her titles as Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands and Lord of Mann in the Isle of Man.

It processes legislation for Royal Assent passed by the insular legislative assemblies and consults with the Islands on extending UK legislation to them. It also ensures that relevant UK legislation is extended to the islands smoothly.[7]


The Ministers in the Ministry of Justice are as follows:[8]

Minister Rank Portfolio
The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP[9] Secretary of State
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain
The resourcing of his Department; Overall strategy on criminal justice, penal policy and rehabilitation; Judicial policy, appointments and conduct; Other functions of the Lord Chancellor; EU and international
The Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP Minister of State Family justice, civil liberties, information rights, female offenders and coroners, as well as Coalition handling of other areas of business.
The Lord Faulks QC Minister of State [10] support to the Secretary of State on constitutional and legal matters; civil law and justice; departmental business in the House of Lords
Mike Penning MP Minister of State Strategic oversight of the criminal justice system, reporting jointly to the Secretary of State and Home Secretary; Joint working with Home Office, Attorney General's Office and CJS agencies; Criminal law, procedure and the criminal offences gateway; Sponsorship of the Criminal Cases Review Commission; The Transforming Justice programme; Human rights and civil liberties (jointly with Simon Hughes); Damian Green also has a range of Home Office responsibilities for policing
Shailesh Vara MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid) Courts, tribunals and administrative justice, Legal Aid, Judicial policy (including diversity), Civil law and justice, International Business(non-EU), Legals services and claims management regulation, coroners and burial policy, better regulation and growth
Andrew Selous MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State; Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation Rehabilitation revolution; Prisons and probation; Youth justice; Sentencing policy
Key Conservative
Liberal Democrat

Damian Green also reports to the Home Secretary. [11]

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice is Ursula Brennan, who is by virtue of her office working to the Lord Chancellor also Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.


The Ministry has outlined its aims for the 2011-2015 Parliament in its structural reform plan,[12] which commits the department to:

1. Introduce a "rehabilitation revolution"
  • Create a system introducing greater involvement of the private and voluntary sectors in the rehabilitation of offenders, including use of payment by results, to cut reoffending
2. Reform sentencing and penalties
  • Ensure that the justice system reduces reoffending by introducing more effective sentencing policies and considering the use of restorative justice for adult and youth crimes
3. Reform courts, tribunals and legal aid, and work with others to reform delivery of criminal justice
  • Reform the legal aid system to make it work more efficiently, while ensuring that we provide necessary support for those who need it most and for those cases that require it.
  • Develop court reforms to improve the resolution of disputes, maximise efficiency and improve services and work with others to make delivery of criminal justice more effective and efficient
4. Assure "better law"
  • Assure that law-making is transparent and accountable, safeguarding civil liberties and enabling citizens to receive the proper protection of the law
5. Reform how the ministry delivers its services
  • Reform the way the Ministry of Justice works. Reassess its ways of working to develop more efficient shared services, match its provision "ever more closely" to demand, reduce duplication and streamline its functions wherever possible.

The departmental board has overall responsibility for delivery of the structural reform plan. It is chaired by the Secretary of State and its membership includes the ministerial team, the Permanent Secretary, the Director General of Finance, the Director General of "Transforming Justice" and departmental non-executive board members.[13] It publishes progress against the plan on the 10 Downing Street website.


  1. ^ Budget 2011. London: HM Treasury. 2011. p. 48. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  2. ^  
  3. ^ List of Ministerial Responsibilities. London: Cabinet Office. 2010. p. 44. 
  4. ^ "Cabinet Office". List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Ministry of Justice". List of Government departments and ministers. Cabinet Office. Retrieved 22 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Home Office to be split in two". BBC News Online. BBC. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 29 March 2007. 
  7. ^ "Ministry of Justice – What we do – Crown dependencies". Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Ministry of Justice
  9. ^ Cabinet reshuffle: David Cameron's new line-up
  10. ^ "Ministerial changes: December 2013". 18 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  11. ^ Cabinet Office List of Government Departments and Ministers: Office of the Leader of the House of Lords
  12. ^ "Structural Reform Plan". Ministry of Justice. 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Ministry of Justice - Departmental Board". Ministry of Justice. Ministry of Justice. Retrieved 14 April 2012. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Ministry of Justice organogram
  • 10 Downing Street transparency data on Ministry of Justice business plan
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