The Welsh Government’s Counsel General is calling on the new UK government to reset its relationship with the legal sector.
Speaking in Llandudno at today’s Legal Wales Conference ahead of the start of the new Welsh legal year, Mick Antoniw will warn the last 12 months has been a bad year for the rule of law in the United Kingdom.
He will outline four specific things the new UK government should do to change course.
Calling for a change in tone in the UK government’s relationship with the legal sector, he will condemn language such as ‘activist lawyers’ and ‘lefty human rights lawyers’ that came from ministers in the previous administration.
He will call for the ditching of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, the Bill of Rights, and the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill – 3 bills that he warns threaten the rule of law.
He will also call for greater investment in the justice system, saying underfunding risks denying people access to justice and is a particular risk for smaller law firms, a key feature of the Welsh legal system.
Finally, the Counsel General will call for the UK government to fully engage with developing the Welsh justice system based on recommendations from the Thomas Commission – the largest ever examination of justice in Wales.
Mick Antoniw, the Welsh Government’s Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution, said:
“As we enter a new legal year, it is impossible not to reflect on the damage done by the UK government in the last 12 months. We have seen attacks on lawyers, anti-democratic Bills and a failure to address the key issues that are preventing people getting access to justice.
“In a new legal year, with a new government at Westminster, the need to change course is crystal clear.
“Our ask of the UK government is to change its tone, withdraw its most heinous legislation, fund the justice system including an increase in legal aid, and take forward at least some of the independent Commission on Justice in Wales’ recommendations to develop justice in Wales.
“We are fully committed to ensuring people in Wales can get the effective access to justice they need. We need the new UK government to reset its relationship with the sector and make the same commitment.”
The Counsel General will also use the speech to outline the Welsh Government’s work in promoting justice in Wales. This includes consolidating Welsh law through legislation in the Senedd, supporting the establishment of the Law Council for Wales, and outlining principles for a Welsh justice system in its ‘Delivering Justice for Wales’ consultation.