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New post of Director of Public Prosecution to be created

The Ministry of Justice yesterday published a Bill for a new Act to establish the office of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Gibraltar.

This is in accordance with one of the Gibraltar Government’s key manifesto commitments of 2015, No. 6 Convent Place said in a statement yesterday.

The GSLP/Liberal manifesto states: “We will seek to appoint a specific office holder to carry responsibility for public prosecutions.”

“This is the position in the United Kingdom and in other Overseas Territories and allows the Attorney General to concentrate on advisory work as is the norm in most other Common Law jurisdictions.”

In Gibraltar, the position of the DPP has never existed and, in the past, the Attorney General has principally carried out that function.

With the appointment of Michael Llamas, QC, as Attorney General in 2015, the Government was committed to bring about the necessary changes so that Gibraltar’s system would more closely replicate that of the United Kingdom.

Mr Llamas has been performing a key role in the Government’s Brexit negotiating team persistently forming part of Gibraltar delegations to the UK and Brussels.

In such a system, the DPP is in charge of the day-to-day running of the criminal prosecution service under the direction of the Attorney General.

This ensures that the Attorney General can concentrate on being the chief legal advisor to the Government.

With the creation of the new post, Gibraltar will follow the UK model where the DPP and Attorney General are two separate appointments.

The DPP will head the Office of Criminal Prosecutions and Litigation - which performs in Gibraltar a role equivalent to the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK - on a day-to-day basis and will carry out criminal law and litigation work on behalf of the Attorney General.

The DPP will also exercise certain elements of the Attorney General’s powers in relation to criminal litigation, such as consenting for certain offences to be prosecuted.

The exercise of such powers will be strictly under the direction of the Attorney General and, in accordance with the Constitution, the DPP will be subject to any instructions issued by the Attorney General in that regard.

The DPP will not be able to act in any manner contrary to such instructions or in cases where the Attorney General has personally exercised a power or discretion.

The Bill sets out that the appointment of the DPP will be carried out by the Gibraltar Government in consultation with the Attorney General.

The provisions of the Bill ensure that the person so appointed must be not only an expert in criminal law and litigation, but also a fit and proper person to hold the post.

The notice of the creation of the post of DPP will be published in the Gibraltar Gazette, the Government said.

Justice Minister Neil Costa said: “I am confident that the creation and appointment of the post of Director of Public Prosecution will positively enhance our legal services.”

“To have a DPP in place within this term of office is one of the Government's manifesto commitments and a pledge that is about to become a reality for the first time in Gibraltar.”

“I think the creation of this new office is an important development for the legal community and one that will be welcomed by professional practitioners and the public alike, as it will improve the administration of justice for the benefit of our entire community.”

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