The IWA has responded to the Commission on Justice in Wales’ call for evidence. Our response considers three primary issues: the administration of justice; the constitutional position; and implications of implementing a justice system for Wales.
The key messages we share in our response are:
- The present unified jurisdiction does not serve Wales well. It is fundamentally English and accommodates Wales and the Welsh language when it has to. Its institutions, policies and attitudes are based on a one-size-fits-all approach which is driven by the needs of large English conurbations;
- Wales needs a justice system which reflects and is able to adapt to its rapidly changing constitutional position and which is tailored to Wales’ demographic, geographic, socio-economic, societal and linguistic characteristics. We encourage the Commission to draft a blueprint for a justice system which responds to and meets the needs of the people and communities of Wales;
- We acknowledge that the kind of justice system which Wales will need cannot be created overnight. However, elements of the justice system should be devolved/decentralised in the short term and should not await further constitutional change. The devolving/decentralising of other elements of the system should take place over a longer period but we are convinced that in approximately ten years Wales will require its own judiciary up to Court of Appeal level with provision for a member of the Welsh judiciary to be a member of the UK Supreme Court.
The IWA believes any changes in the system for administering justice in Wales should have among its aims:
- allowing decisions on justice in Wales to be taken by institutions based in Wales that properly understand Welsh society and its needs;
- bringing the institutions of justice closer to the citizens of Wales to ensure easy access to justice;
- ensuring the justice system is able to develop to support and reflect Wales’ changing constitutional position in the United Kingdom;
- ensuring that the justice system develops in a way which maximises its contribution to Wales’ economy.
Our full response is available to read here.