Does Wales Now Need Its Own Courts and Judiciary?

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Byline: TOM BODDEN

NOW the National Assembly has law-making powers, attention has turned to whether Wales should be a separate legal jurisdiction.

What such a status means is itself part of a public consultation exercise launched yesterday.

But it could extend to a separate judiciary, courts system, suitably training of lawyers in Welsh law, and devolution of the criminal justice system, all of which does not come cheaply.

Wales has not had its own legal system since the laws of Hywel Dda were brought to an end in 1282. Then it was annexed by England and English common law was sacrosanct.

Wales still remains part of the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland are both separate jurisdictions.

But as the amount of Welsh law increases knowledge of and access to justice will be essential. Differences already exist such as the shopping bag charge, the ban on electric shock collars for dogs, and soon perhaps an opt-out system for organ donation.

The consultation launched by the Welsh Government appears to be a solution in search of a problem.

Counsel general Theodore Huckle QC insisted the Welsh Government remained 'open-minded' and had come to no conclusions over the result in advance.

But Conservative Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan was not convinced: "This is a surprising priority from the Welsh Government and I am not clear on the problem that needs to be addressed.

"The current system for England and Wales has served Wales well for centuries. …