Trainee solicitor Aimee Thomas looks at the Lord Chief Justice Thomas' speech on the Wales Bill, and what it could mean for law in Wales.
On 22 December 2016, Lord Chief Justice Thomas gave a speech shaping the future of Welsh Law. Beginning by speaking about the Wales Bill, he went on to discuss the future of Welsh law, the reform to the courts and tribunals, the judiciary and the profession and the universities. He said that when dealing with devolution in Wales it is all about ‘delivery, delivery, delivery’'. He said it was key that we need to look at 'actually what the law can do for Wales, not only by inspiration from the past, but by looking at the future and at the prosperity of Wales.'
He notes that this should govern all discussions concerning Welsh Law.
‘[It is] disappointing that no real attempt has been made to provide something that is much simpler, not because it will stop litigation but, more importantly, because it will enable the citizen to understand who is accountable for what.’
It is for this reason that the lack of clarity and huge complexity to the Wales Bill is something that needs to be ironed out. The Wales Bill needs to be something the people of Wales can understand as it will play such a significant role in the continued devolution.
May I begin by talking about my recent visit to Merthyr Tydfil. You may wonder why. It was on the occasion of the visit of Chief Justice Robert French, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. The visit was in honour of Sir Samuel Griffith, the first Chief Justice of Australia, who was born there in 1845. He was a lawyer and a politician who played a critical role drafting the new constitution that Australia developed to turn the then colonies into a federal state, and thereafter in the creation and success of the High Court. Here was a great Welshman who had done a great deal outside Wales.