Wales first minister Carwyn Jones (pictured) is today set to reveal whether he backs a separate legal jurisdiction for the country. His long-awaited response to last year’s consultation is expected to recommend a separation of powers.
A move towards a Welsh jurisdiction has been widely predicted since the 2011 devolution of law-making powers to Wales. Currently, laws made in Wales, for Wales, still form part of the law of England and Wales – which is not the case for jurisdictions in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
At the end of last year, a Welsh Assembly committee said the current system was in need of reform to reflect an emerging Welsh legal identity.
‘The committee believes that a separate legal jurisdiction system in Wales is constitutionally viable, but the issue of whether one should be established is ultimately a political decision,’ said David Melding, chair of the constitutional and legislative affairs committee.
A move towards separation could herald the biggest single addition in responsibility since devolution began in 1999.
Theo Huckle, counsel general for Wales, said in November that wholesale change – including devolved responsibility for policing and justice – would have to be included in any wholsesale change in jurisdiction.
But opponents of reform argue that a separate Welsh legal jurisdiction might weaken the country’s legal profession.
In its response to the consultation, the Law Society said: ‘Legal services contribute £3.2bn per annum to export earnings, largely driven by the popularity of the choice of the law of the jurisdiction of England and Wales in international trade and finance, and of our courts and other forms of dispute resolution by international parties.’