The Welsh government’s senior legal authority has said the assembly government should take an active approach to legal matters ahead of any agreement to create a formal separate jurisdiction in the country.
Theodore Huckle QC (pictured), counsel general for Wales, was announcing the long-awaited launch of a project to create an authoritative online guide to Welsh law. Under the devolution settlement, Welsh legislation is rapidly diverging from English law in areas such as planning and environmental law as well as in housing and health.
He told the Law Society Wales summer reception that, while responsibility for the justice system still remains with Westminster, ‘that does not mean we do not have responsibilities towards the rule of law even outwith our aspiration for the devolution of justice’.
He called attention to the urgent need for a ‘clear, certain and settled’ statute book to provide a stable legal framework to citizens and those doing business in Wales: ‘This is vital for us to deliver our pro-business approach as a government; creating growth and jobs in every part of Wales.’
The current mixture of statutes is ‘unnecessarily difficult to navigate’, Huckle said. He revealed that ‘where practicable we will seek to avoid amending existing law which applies also to other parts of the UK, and instead separate out provisions on the whole of the topic being reformed and restate it afresh – and of course bilingually – for Wales.’
He invited practitioners to contribute to the new website Cyfraith Cymru Law Wales, being developed in association with Westlaw UK, which will provide an overview of the law of the Welsh constitution and of the devolved subjects.
The Law Society Wales said: ‘We looked forward to the launch of the Welsh government’s new online service, which has the potential to develop to become a useful resource for practitioners.’