Oliver was born in 1954. He was educated at Reading School and Pembroke College, Cambridge (Ziegler Law Scholar, MA Hons Law). He is married and has a son and two daughters.
He was called to the Bar in 1977 and has practised as a barrister on the South Eastern Circuit. He is a specialist in employment law.
Oliver contested Southwark and Bermondsey in the General Election of June 1987. He was elected as Member of Parliament for North East Hertfordshire at the General Election of April, 1992. He is a Vice President of two Conservative associations.
He was Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Backbench Employment Committee 1992-94. He was a member of the Select Committee on Employment 1992-94. He is a member of the All Party Group on Pensions.
Oliver was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt Hon William Waldegrave MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from September 1994 until July 1995. In July 1995, Oliver was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security and designated Benefit Fraud Minister.
He was an Opposition Whip, and was appointed Frontbench Spokesman for Home Affairs in February 2000. In September 2001, he was appointed as a Frontbench Spokesman for Health. In November 2002, he was promoted to Shadow Work and Pensions Minister. In November 2003, he was appointed Shadow Leader of the House.
From September 2004 to June 2007, he served as the Shadow Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, and also as the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
From November 2007-2012, Oliver was a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and in March 2008 was appointed to the Committee on Standards in Public Life. In July 2010, he was also appointed to the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee.
In September 2012 Oliver returned to Government when he was appointed Her Majesty's Solicitor General for England and Wales. In this role, he helped oversee a modernisation of the Criminal Justice System with new digital working. He also presented and won all his cases in the Court of Appeal for unduly lenient sentences and he argued successfully in Government for tightening of the laws on Female Genital Mutilation. He helped steer two Bills through the House of Commons – the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and the Deregulation Act.
Oliver left the Government in the 2014 reshuffle and was honoured by the Queen for his political service over the past 22 years. From October to December 2014, Oliver sat on the Select Committee on Governance of the House of Commons, which prepared a report on the future shape of the senior management structure of the House.
In May 2015, Oliver was re-elected with an increased majority.
In July 2016, Oliver returned to Government when the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, appointed him as Minister of State for Courts and Justice.
In October 2016, he was appointed to the Privy Council and may therefore use the title The Right Honourable.