A major programme to simplify the statute book is to be introduced by the Welsh Government, the Counsel General for Wales, Mick Antoniw has announced.
As part of a new ground-breaking approach for the UK, existing laws in areas devolved to Wales - many of which are decades old - will be brought together and set out as distinct Welsh laws, rather than remaining within laws originally made by the UK Parliament that also apply to England or the rest of the UK.
This will involve laws in areas such as education, tax, local government, planning and housing being consolidated, or brought together, into codes of law, making them easier to find and understand. Acts already passed by the National Assembly which reform the law will also be incorporated and will continue to be as they are passed in future.
Once codified, all of the law, from Assembly Acts to guidance, would, for the first time, be published together and available in one place - on the Cyfraith Cymru/Law Wales website, in both English and in Welsh.
The Counsel General said the reforms will help improve access to justice increase efficiency and help form the foundation for a Welsh legal jurisdiction
The lengthy and complex process of consolidating and codifying Welsh laws will begin, as a pilot, during this Assembly term with progress reviewed at the end of 2017.
The Counsel General, Mick Antoniw said:
“As a young legislature, with relatively new powers to legislate, we in the National Assembly for Wales have a unique opportunity to bring order to the laws we have inherited and to take a different approach to making new laws in future. We can lead the way in the United Kingdom by starting on a path of consolidation and codification of our law.
“My intention is to modernise and bring together most of the law on devolved subjects in one place – something that has never been done before in the UK.
“This will help ensure our laws are accessible – so that we know what the law is, and where the law is. It will also ensure the laws of Wales are fully bilingual - helping to further develop the Welsh language as a language of the law. It would in future make the work in developing and scrutinising new laws which reform and change policy, considerably more straightforward and efficient.
“This will, however, be a project that the Welsh Government cannot pursue alone – co-operation and collaboration with the National Assembly and other political groups is essential. I am also under no illusions as to the size of the task that we are setting ourselves and should make clear that this is a project that will take many years to complete. I am also conscious that in times of constitutional uncertainty – in particular the UK’s exit from the European Union - we may not always be able to commit resources to such a long term initiative.
But bringing order to the law would bring social benefits, efficiency gains for the public and third sectors, and financial benefits to our economy more generally. Fundamentally it would help bring clarity to our highly complex constitution and legal system.”