What do you know of the Institute of Welsh Law, the Welsh Society of Public Teachers of Law, or indeed the Commission on Justice in Wales?
Not a lot, we would guess, even if you’re Welsh. The first two bodies don’t exist (though they have been mooted by influential persons, while the latter has yet to be constituted.
So why mention them all here? Well, the inclusion of these earnest appellations in this week’s Gazette neatly demonstrates that the centrifugal forces impacting upon the evolution of the law and legal profession in Wales are irresistible. Wales may not (or indeed may) evolve into an entirely discrete legal jurisdiction, like Scotland. What is not in doubt is that it is taking further steps along that road.
From the structure and constituency of law schools, to the common law, to the dispensation of justice itself, the momentum is growing for Wales increasingly to go its own way. That infamous 19th century encyclopaedia entry: ‘For Wales, See England,’ is becoming less apposite by the day. The Gazette marks this new reality today with a special feature on Wales that includes an update on how the nation’s laws are diverging from those of England.
A caveat. Wales and its higher education system, already relatively poor in EU terms, are facing a massive hit from Brexit, as speakers at Legal Wales acknowledged. Who is going to foot the bill for what we might call ‘diseconomies of scale’? And how?