The Legislation (Wales) Bill – one step closer to clarity for Welsh Law?

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Last month, we at Capital responded to a consultation opened by the Assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee.

It’s no secret that, over the years, the divergence between the laws of Cardiff Bay and Westminster has meant that finding and applying the law in Wales has become increasingly problematic – for us lawyers as well as the general public.

The Bill’s aim is to change the status quo. Put simply, its main objectives are to:

  1. require the Welsh Government to take steps to improve the accessibility of Welsh Law, and
  2. introduce a modern and bilingual Interpretation Act for Welsh Law.

This statutory requirement – which we consider necessary – on the Counsel General and Welsh Ministers would include the need to roll-out and maintain regular programmes, setting out their proposals for improving accessibility. These proposals will include activities aimed at contributing to the consolidation and codification of Welsh law.

Consolidation would mean re-enacting and merging English and Welsh laws of the same subject into one unified body. Codification would mean an up-to-date collection (or “codes”) of all relevant laws relating to a particular subject (similar to what’s seen in the United States).

Naturally, this is a mammoth task – there’s no doubt that the implementation of the Bill will be fuelled by considerable time, cost and resource. With Brexit and the Assembly’s already packed agenda thrown into the mix, there’s a risk that this strategy may be put on the back burner.

Having said that, any long-term and worthwhile policy brings with it associated costs and time. Equally, it’s expected that the statutory duty to keep accessibility under review will inject lasting momentum into the project.

The Assembly has now published all responses to its consultation, and we look forward to hearing the Committee’s findings following its review.