Mick Antoniw, the Welsh Government’s Counsel General, has launched a new programme to improve the accessibility of Welsh law.
As part of a long term plan to create Codes of Welsh law, planning law will be simplified and modernised through a consolidation Bill, bringing together provisions from the multiple, heavily amended Acts that currently set out the main framework. This will enable people using the planning system in Wales to refer to a single, fully bilingual act containing all the relevant law.
A consolidation Bill which will form a coherent body of historic environment law for Wales will also be brought forward. Owners of scheduled monuments or listed buildings currently face a complex challenge in understanding the relevant legislation, which has provisions that apply differently in England, Scotland and Wales. The consolidation Bill will result in clear, distinct and modernised legislation for Wales.
Existing legislation in other areas is being reviewed with a view to identifying further consolidation projects during this Senedd term.
The programme will also increase the accessibility of law through digital solutions. This includes making improvements and adding content to the Cyfraith Cymru/Law Wales website, exploring the potential for using machine learning and artificial intelligence to make Welsh law more accessible, and improving the publication service offered by legislation.gov.uk so that Welsh law is available in up-to-date form in both Welsh and English on that site.
The Welsh Government will review its approach to developing bilingual legislation, to improve efficiency and ensure plain language is used.
The programme will also lay the foundations for creating Codes of Welsh law. This includes adopting a structure for Welsh law that improves its accessibility, and organising and publishing consolidated Welsh law according to that structure. As projects to classify and consolidate law develop it will eventually be possible to begin codifying the law.
Mick Antoniw, Counsel General and Minister for Constitution, said:
“This is an important programme that demonstrates our commitment to the law being available and understandable to everyone.
“Making the law more accessible will help people understand their legal rights and obligations, which is particularly important in the context of the cuts to legal aid that risk people being unable to access advice if they cannot pay for legal representation.
“The programme increase the amount of legislation which is available bilingually, while also facilitating better governance across the entire public sector by enabling those who work with Welsh law to find and interpret it more easily.”