Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Should Wales be a separate jurisdiction?

Ever Since the Law in Wales Act 1535 (good old Thomas Cromwell) Wales has not had its own law - but has been subject to the same law as England:

....... the Dominion, Principality and Country of Wales justly and righteously is, and ever hath been incorporated, annexed, united and subject to and under the Imperial Crown of this Realm, as a very Member and Joint of the same, wherefore the King's most Royal Majesty of meer Droit, and very Right, is very Head, King, Lord and Ruler;'
 (2) and that the Laws, Ordinances and Statutes of this Realm of England, for ever, and none other Laws, Ordinances, and Statutes, from after the said Feast of All-Saints next coming, shall be had, used, practised and executed in the said Country or Dominion of Wales, and every Part thereof, in like Manner, Form and Order, as they be and shall be had, used, practised, and executed in this Realm, and in such like Manner and Form as hereafter by this Act shall be further established and ordained; any Act, Statute, Usage, Custom, Precedent, Liberty, Privilege, or other Thing had, made, used, granted or suffered to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.

This all changed when the Welsh Assembly got these powers following a 2011 referendum (Government of Wales Act 2006):
107  Acts of the Assembly
(1)     The Assembly may make laws, to be known as Acts of the National Assembly for Wales or Deddfau Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru (referred to in this Act as “Acts of the Assembly”).
(2)     Proposed Acts of the Assembly are to be known as Bills; and a Bill becomes an Act of the Assembly when it has been passed by the Assembly and has received Royal Assent.
(3)     The validity of an Act of the Assembly is not affected by any invalidity in the Assembly proceedings leading to its enactment.
(4)     Every Act of the Assembly is to be judicially noticed.
(5)     This Part does not affect the power of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to make laws for Wales.

Now that Wales will have its own primary legislation (hasn't actually passed any yet) it would like to have its own legal jurisdiction - divorced from England. There is a consultation - http://wales.gov.uk/docs/caecd/consultation/120326separatelegaljurisdiction.pdf

This raises all sorts of problems, raised by the consultation paper:

-Separate courts?
-New judges?
-Rights of appeal?
-Separate criminal law - what happens when criminals cross the border?
-Enforcement of judgments in England/Scotland/NI?
-Separate legal professions?

A lot of these issues are already dealt with between Scotland and England - although they do cause a lot of trouble when dealing with cross-border cases -there is a real cost to business. 

All sounds a bit expensive to me.... Lord Morris of Aberavon KG, OC, QC (Blair's first AG) agrees.  The law has been slightly different in Wales for awhile - I remember going to Cardiff to get an ASBO for a Bristol based Housing Association only to find that the Welsh Assembly had yet to bring them into force - really didn't need a Welsh Barrister and a Welsh Judge to sort it out...and in these times of economic woe -  is this really necessary?  

1 comment:

  1. Frankly, it is unnecessary. The UK - (in common with many other countries) - is getting rather too close to an economic black hole. This ought to be the focus of all politicians and not fiddling around with issues such as a separate jurisdiction for Wales. Of course, it smacks of the same politicians trying to enhance their own power.