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The history of Attorney General’s Chambers – as a formal institution of government – is relatively recent though, as we shall see, the provenance of the Attorney General as the country’s chief law officer is much older. The various functions of legal advice afforded to the then colonial government were consolidated as a federal department under the provision of the Federation of Malaya agreement, 1948. Three years later the membership system was introduced into the Federal Legislative Council. Under that system Attorney General’s Chambers (then known as the Department of Law) was classified as a ministry and was held responsible for all legal matters involving the Government. The Public Trustee’s Department and the Official Registrar of Patents and Trademarks came under it. Under the Cabinet System established in August 1955 the Chambers continued to exercise the same functions.
Since independence in 1957 the Attorney General’s Chambers has been placed under various ministries. Initially it was located within the portfolio of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Justice. On 1 September 1959 it shifted to the then Ministry of Justice, only to revert to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Justice in 1964. A decade later it came under the Ministry of Law and Attorney General. It was on 15 September 1980 that the Chambers formally came under auspices of the Prime Minister’s Department, a move that explicitly recognized the strategic importance of the law at the heart of the governance.
Just as the Chambers has had different institutional arrangements within the governance apparatus so it has been located in different premises. From the pre-independence period until 1982 it was sited in the Sultan Abdul Samad Building in the historic heart of Kuala Lumpur, and from 1982 to 2001 in the modernist Bank Rakyat building. The offices of the Chambers are then relocated in Kompleks C Putrajaya in 2001, the Federal Administrative Capital and later to its current location in Precint 4 in 2009.