Plaid Cymru hails legal devolution
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Elfyn Llwyd has insisted Wales can benefit from a separate legal jurisdiction - despite warnings it may harm the principality’s appeal to business. Llywd told the House of Commons last week that there would be legal and economic advantages to devolving the administration of justice.
The Law Society warned there will be major hurdles to clear before legal devolution is achieved. The Welsh Assembly is consulting on the scale and need for a separate jurisdiction, following the devolution of law-making powers last year. The consultation closes on 19 June.
Llwyd said that ‘[Separation] would have a holistic impact on the whole society, not just the justice system. The burgeoning maturity of our justice system cannot be ignored. The Welsh government holding this consultation is testament to how urgent and important this debate has become.’
He accepted there were challenges to overcome, not least the lack of a body of Welsh law. He said Wales could follow a similar system to Northern Ireland for training lawyers in dual jurisdictions.
In an initial response to the consultation, the Law Society said full devolution of a criminal justice system could be ‘costly and over-ambitious’ and carry significant implications for training.
Limiting separation to civil law would require the establishment of bodies to cover the functions of 30 Ministry of Justice organisations, the Society stressed.
The response says there may be social and economic advantages from developing the legal profession in Wales, but devolving legal powers could make Cardiff less attractive than London as a location to solve disputes.
It observes: ‘The law in England and Wales is transparent, predictable, flexible and supports the needs of modern commerce; in addition English is the language of international business. These features make England and Wales a highly attractive jurisdiction in which to resolve disputes. By creating a "separate Welsh jurisdiction" the benefits of this might be lost and Wales could be perceived as a difficult place to do business.’