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Can there be a separate legal and training agenda for Wales? / Richard Owen

Swansea University Author: Richard Owen

Abstract

With the advent of devolution in in 1999, Wales, for the first time in centuries, began to develop a distinct legal identity. This development of law and legal institutions has become known as ‘Legal Wales’. Its agenda has developed significantly in recent years and the question of whether Wales sho...

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Published: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies W.G. Hart Legal Workshop Series 2014
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa35857
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Abstract: With the advent of devolution in in 1999, Wales, for the first time in centuries, began to develop a distinct legal identity. This development of law and legal institutions has become known as ‘Legal Wales’. Its agenda has developed significantly in recent years and the question of whether Wales should be a separate legal jurisdiction has figured highly. The acquisition by the National Assembly for Wales (hereafter the Assembly) of primary law making powers in 2011 has also breathed life into the debate. A single jurisdiction is a longer term aim of the current Welsh Government, which has also said that steps should start to be taken now to ensure a smooth transition.It is frequently asserted that as the laws of Wales and England are already diverging, this will increase to the point where a separate jurisdiction is a practical necessity. This raises the question of how long the period of transition will be before there is a separate jurisdiction. Reporting in 2014, the Commission on Devolution in Wales (known as the Silk Commission) suggested a timetable recommending that there should be a review within ten years of the case for devolving legislative responsibility for the court service, sentencing, legal aid, the Crown Prosecution Service and the judiciary to the Assembly.Although Wales has been an administrative unit within HM Courts and Tribunal Service since 2007, this is an administrative - albeit politically expedient –arrangement. Wales is currently no different, for practical purposes, from an English circuit. However, the Welsh Government and the Assembly have responsibility for a dozen tribunals with power to create more which has been described as an ‘embryonic jurisdiction’.This paper looks at how legal education has already responded to ‘Legal Wales’ and what steps legal education providers in Wales need to take in preparation for a separate legal system. It will also try to assess the likely shape of a Welsh jurisdiction, taking into account that the wider educational and social context is also different in Wales from the rest of the UK.
College: Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law