Codification of the law in Wales
We have identified some areas of law that our experience and discussion with stakeholders suggest may require reform. They could be potential projects for the Programme. We would like to hear your views about these, and whether you think they should form part of our work over the next few years.
Codification of the law in Wales
Which areas of Welsh law could be made clearer with codification?
Our project on the form and accessibility of the law in Wales aimed to improve both the quality of the law, and access to it. A key reform recommendation made in the report is that the Welsh Government should implement a programme of codification. Codification as we envisage entails the consolidation and, where necessary, reform of all of the law in a particular subject into a single Act of the Assembly. Where possible the Act (or “Code”) should then stand as the only primary legislation on that subject.
Our planning law project is designed to produce the first codification Bill. We could undertake further codification projects in order to assist the Welsh Government to deliver a programme of codification. There was particular support from consultees for attention being given to the law in the areas of education and local government.
The National Assembly for Wales has enacted 13 pieces of primary legislation in the field of education since receiving primary lawmaking powers under Parts 3 and 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006. In addition, the UK Parliament has continued to pass legislation relating to education which has occasionally applied to Wales. Depending on how widely “education law” is defined, education law in Wales is contained in between 17 and 40 Acts of Parliament, seven Measures and six Acts of the National Assembly and hundreds of statutory instruments.
The law on education needs to be understood not only by lawyers, but by parents and teachers too. There is an increasing divergence of education legislation in England and Wales, and sections and subsections applicable only in England or only in Wales intermingle in Acts of the UK Parliament. We have suggested that a rationalisation of the existing law, accompanied by technical reform, is desirable.
The Fourth Assembly Government declared a commitment to the reform and restructure of local government in Wales. The Local Government (Wales) Act 2015, which recently received Royal Assent, makes provision for the voluntary merger of two or more local authorities. At the beginning of 2016 the Welsh Government completed a consultation on a draft of a second local government Bill. It remains to be seen what legislation will be introduced during the Fifth Assembly.
A number of consultees suggested that the fragmented nature of local government law makes it difficult to understand. They emphasised difficulties of interpreting the law both because legislation has been heavily amended and because the law respectively applying in England and in Wales is not clear.
Consultees generally supported consolidation of local government law in Wales. The legislation on local government strikes us as a candidate for codification, which could either be introduced alongside further reforms or be undertaken once further reform legislation has been enacted.
What do you think?
Are there any areas of the law in Wales in which we could undertake a codification project as part of our 13th Programme of law reform? Please use this form to send us your comments, and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.