The government has backed further devolution of the Welsh court system as part a package of reforms to transfer some powers.
Today’s paper on a lasting devolution settlement for the nation states that cross-party consensus has been reached on reforming some justice issues.
But the recommendations stop short of backing a fully separated legal jurisdiction for Wales.
Instead, proposals are based on those set out in last year’s report of the Silk Commission, which include various divisions of the High Court and appeal court sitting in Wales on a regular basis and judges in those courts allocated to Wales.
There should also be at least one judge in the UK Supreme Court with ‘particular knowledge and understanding’ of the distinct requirements of Wales.
The report said: ‘Wales benefits from the large pool of legal expertise and experience which being part of a single England and Wales legal jurisdiction brings.
‘Sittings of all divisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal take place regularly in Wales. There is also a clear understanding and agreement that Welsh administrative court cases will be heard in Wales whenever possible. We agree that this should continue.’
The report also recommends that until and unless legal aid is devolved, the UK government should fully consult the Welsh government to ensure the operation of the system ‘reflects Welsh circumstances’.
The devolution package overall gives Wales more power on decisions such as fracking and other energy projects and control of Welsh assembly elections.
The Welsh government will have guaranteed minimum funding and the ability to raise cash from the money markets for major projects.