Nationalist politicians in Wales have exploited the consequences of the Scottish referendum skilfully. They talk of a ‘going rate’ for devolution in the UK that Wales is not yet being paid.
For the nation’s solicitors, whether devolution is a boon or burden rather depends on who you talk to. Sceptics speak of the potential extra cost of administering a discrete stamp duty land tax, for example. Others caution that if Wales does not become more like Scotland and Northern Ireland in devising investment incentives, it will lose out on growth opportunities.
The slow divergence of Welsh law and statute from that of England, meanwhile, is already having serious consequences. Solicitors and the public still have nowhere to go to access the law relating to Wales, even though the National Assembly has been keenly exercising what have become broader powers in recent years.
The Law Commission is on the case: it told the Gazette last week that a much-heralded advisory project on the form and accessibility of the law applicable to Wales will produce a consultation paper after the general election. A final report is expected by the end of the year. For those attending our roundtable, this can’t come soon enough.