The attorney general will order government lawyers to give “solutions-oriented advice” when challenging the legality of ministers’ policies.
Updated guidance to be released shortly will state that when “a substantial legal challenge to a policy is likely, it does not automatically mean that the policy cannot be continued,” a spokesperson for Suella Braverman said.
“The focus should be on how government lawyers can work with ministers to resolve issues.”
This follows the dispute over the government’s controversial policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda and growing tensions between ministers and the legal profession.
But the attorney general’s office denied a Daily Telegraph report that it was barring government lawyers from dismissing ministers’ policies as illegal.
His spokesman said the new guidelines ‘do not prevent government lawyers from telling ministers the policies are illegal’.
Adding: “It remains crucial for government lawyers to assess the legal risk and legality of government policies and advise accordingly.”
The statement sent to the PA news agency continued: ‘The updates to the legal risk guidance will place greater emphasis than previous versions on the need for government lawyers to provide solutions-based advice when they advise ministers on the risks of their policies…
“While the guidance does not change the risk assessment that underpins government decision-making, it does clarify that where, for example, a substantial legal challenge to a policy is likely, it does not automatically mean that the policy cannot be continued.
“It emphasizes finding solutions that could be put in place to reduce legal risks and their impact, to help ensure that government policy is carried out even when it is new or complex, but always within the framework of the law.”
Lawyers had lashed out at the reported ban, with an anonymous legal adviser telling the Telegraph it ‘questions our ability to hold the government to account’ and former attorney general Dominic Grieve calling it a ‘dumb idea “.
He said the government could still pursue a policy his lawyers deemed illegal.
“Indeed, this current government under the leadership of the current prime minister has been quite keen to do that from time to time,” he told the newspaper.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly slammed those who filed lawsuits that actually founded the first flight to ferry asylum seekers to Rwanda last month, suggesting they were “encouraging” criminal gangs.
A series of legal challenges has created uncertainty over when new flights to the East African country will be attempted, although Home Secretary Priti Patel has insisted the government ” will not be deterred”.