Stephen Laws

Sir Stephen Charles Laws, KCB, QC is a British lawyer and civil servant who served as the First Parliamentary Counsel between 2006 and 2012.[1]

Laws read law at Bristol, graduating in 1972. He was the first in his family to go to University.[2] After a year lecturing at Bristol, Laws was called to the Bar at Middle Temple, and following pupillage and a brief period practising, he joined the Home Office in 1975 as a legal assistant. He transferred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel the next year, and excepting two secondments to the Law Commission, stayed there until his retirement, rising first to Deputy Parliamentary Counsel in 1985, and then Parliamentary Counsel in 1991. He replaced Sir Geoffrey Bowman as First Parliamentary Counsel in 2006.[3]

As head of the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, Laws was responsible for the drafting of all the government legislation which is laid before Parliament. Alongside the Treasury Solicitor and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Laws was one of the three most senior lawyers in the Civil Service. He undertook his LLB at Bristol University, graduating in 1972, and was thus the first non-Oxbridge graduate to hold the office.[4]

Laws was appointed the CB in the 1996 New Year Honours.[5]

On retiring as First Parliamentary Counsel in 2012, Laws was asked in an interview for Civil Service World whether he had been a victim of nominative determinism. He replied that his choice of career was more influenced by his father’s interest in the law, but conceded that “hereditary nominative determinism” may have been at work.[6]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ School of Advanced Studies (October 2007). "Sir Geoffrey Bowman, KCB QC". University of London. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  4. ^ Stephen Laws (April 2008). "Stephen Laws CB (LLB 1972)". Featured alumni. Bristol University. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  5. ^ "No. 54255". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 29 December 1995. p. 3.
  6. ^ Brecknell, Suzannah (8 February 2012). "Interview: Stephen Laws". Civil Service World. London, United Kingdom: Dods Group PLC. Archived from the original on 2 September 2020. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Bowman
First Parliamentary Counsel
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Heaton