Welsh law

Welsh law (Welsh: Cyfraith Cymru) is an autonomous part of the English law system[1] composed of legislation made by the Senedd.[2] Wales is part of the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom.[3] However, due to devolution, the law in Wales is increasingly distinct from the law in England, since the Senedd, the devolved parliament of Wales, can legislate on non-reserved matters.

Welsh Judges at the Fourth Senedd Assembly; June 2011

Welsh law has been generated by the Senedd since the Government of Wales Act 2006 and in effect since May 2007. Each piece of Welsh legislation is known as an Act of Senedd Cymru. The first Welsh legislation to be proposed was the NHS Redress (Wales) Measure 2008. This was the first time in almost 500 years that Wales has had its own laws, since Cyfraith Hywel, a version of Celtic law, was abolished and replaced by English law through the Laws in Wales Acts, enacted between 1535 and 1542 during the reign of King Henry VIII.[4]

Because Wales is not a distinct legal jurisdiction, matters of justice are reserved to Westminster.[5] There have, however, been calls for a distinct legal jurisdiction and the devolution of justice and policing to the Senedd. For example, in 2020, an independent commission led by former Lord Chief Justice John Thomas came to the conclusion that the existing arrangement was ‘failing the people of Wales’.[6]

Prior to the 19th century, It was custom for Welsh Judges to travel on horseback, whereas their English counterpart did not, this detail was discussed within the House of Commons in May 25, 1820.[7]


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