Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Welsh Government and Westlaw launch Law Wales

Today I attended the official launch of Law Wales, a new collaborative project between Welsh Government and Westlaw. Law Wales, a freely available public service, provides information on key aspects of law within Wales.

Law Wales takes a topic based approach, with  each topic landing page providing a succinct, easy to understand overview of the legal landscape for that topic, and an outline of where powers have been devolved to Wales.  The service may then go on to  include:
  • key Acts and SIs, and where appropriate, European legislation. Links to UK legislation are currently made to legislation.gov.uk
  • an overview of Welsh Government guidance within that area.
A topic page may also lead to a number of specific and detailed sub-topic pages. Each sub-topic page will provide  the relevant legal powers, often quoting to Act and section level, or identifying key secondary legislation.

Law Wales has been launched as "a work in progress", with a call to academics and legal practitioners to submit new content in their areas of expertise. Much of the existing content has been provided from Westlaw Insights, or from content drafted by Welsh Government lawyers.

Understanding the law in Wales, and where legal powers are derived from, is complex and fraught with difficulties. Welsh legislation may be :"home grown"; arise from UK legislation; may derive from European legislation; and may be scattered between different pieces of primary (Acts) and secondary legislation (statutory instruments).  Policy and guidance may also take a variety of formats, and identifying the existence of relevant guidance, together with checking for its currency, can be time consuming. Law Wales hopes to overcome many of these challenges and difficulties, and as such should be applauded and welcomed!

On its own Law Wales could do much to "help you understand the law of Wales". But the value of this service will increase if legal practitioners and academics join-in through submission of new and updating content. The service will also be aided if associated tools such as www.legislation.gov.uk can battle to provide a truly contemporary and up to date consolidated service for primary legislation.

Rome wasn't built in a day and this is certainly a truly ambitious and noble project. It may also be a "world first". I will watch the development of Law Wales with interest and will do all that I can to support its success, relevance, functionality and awareness about the service.

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