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Does Wales Needs its Own Legal Jurisdiction?


An issue previously considered by some to be technical, abstract and unimportant is now central to the debate on how to create coherent, stable and long lasting constitutional arrangements for Wales.

At the root of the compelling case for a Welsh legal jurisdiction is the historical context. The single legal jurisdiction we have today is the product of the annexation of Wales to England, and the replacement of Welsh laws with English laws, in the 16th century.

It has served its purpose, but was designed for a situation in which the same (English) law applied across the territory of an English jurisdiction.  Today Wales, as part of what the Prime Minister has referred to as a “family of four nations”, has its own legislature and government.

These institutions and their law-making functions have been legitimised and entrenched in two referendums. The territory of the jurisdiction – England and Wales – is no longer a political concept recognised within the constitution. To put it another way, it no longer reflects where power lies and how decisions are taken. Across the common law world the creation of new legislatures has been coupled with the formation of a distinct legal jurisdiction. But not in Wales.