An official study into the future powers of the Welsh assembly has called for further devolution of the courts system and judiciary.

The Silk Commission report, which was commissioned by the UK government, recommends the creation of a Welsh criminal justice board, as well as a devolved youth justice system.

Police and justice are currently non-devolved matters, with the exception of some tribunals, but with the development of Welsh statutory law the case for further separation of powers has gathered momentum.

The Silk Commission recommends that the various divisions of the High Court should sit in Wales on a regular basis to hear cases that arise in Wales. It adds its voice to calls for a Welsh judge on the Supreme Court. 

High Court judges should also have to satisfy the lord chief justice that they understand Welsh law to be allowed to sit.

The phased approach to justice devolution also includes a feasibility study for the devolution of prisons and probation.

However the commission stops short of recommending a separate legal jurisdiction by devolving the entire court system and creating a Welsh judiciary.

Divergence between the law in England and Wales remains minor, it noted, and radical change could be a ‘potential disadvantage’ for lawyers in Wales who represent clients in England.

The report adds: ‘There seems from our opinion poll to be limited public appetite for devolution in this area. However, given the emergence of a distinct body of Welsh law that will need to be adequately administered, a separate Welsh courts system and a separate Welsh judiciary is something that must be contemplated in the future.

‘We recommend that the two governments review the case for this within the next 10 years.’

The report echoes the position of the Welsh government, which concluded last year that the implementation of a completely separate jurisdiction was too expensive for now.

The UK government has welcomed the commission’s report but stated there is insufficient parliamentary time before next year's general election for changes requiring primary legislation.

David Jones, secretary of state for Wales, said: ‘These will therefore be matters for the next government and parliament, and it will be for political parties to set out their proposals and intentions to the electorate. 

‘However, I can say now that we in government will be taking a very positive approach to the Silk Commission’s work, in keeping with our proud record on devolution.’

Plaid Cymru parliamentary leader Elfyn Llwyd MP said the recommendations form ‘vital building blocks’ for a future where all aspects of justice and police are decided in Wales. 

‘This report clearly shows that our current devolution settlement is confused, complex and unsatisfactory,’ he added.