When discussing JUSTICE’s recent report “Devolution and Human Rights” on his Devolution Matters blog, Alan Trench pointed out that Wales had been “left out of the debate (and the JUSTICE paper)”, arguing that this “appears to derive from Wales’s inclusion in the single legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, which disregards the constitutional prerogatives of the National Assembly”. (The JUSTICE report itself is covered on the UKSCblog here).

It seems fitting then, that this year’s Lord Callaghan Memorial Lecture, given by Mr Justice Roderick Evans, concentrates on how the administration of justice in Wales has been affected by devolution, and how it might be in the future.

Building on issues touched on in papers given at the 2009 Legal Wales Conference in Cardiff (particularly those by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge and by Lord Justice Pill) and the annual Law Society Lecture at the National Eisteddfod, given by Jack Straw MP, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Roderick Evans J sets out his ideas for “a justice system which serves the whole of Wales – a system which provides a service which is reasonable accessible wherever you live in Wales and which is available to you in either Welsh or English”.

After setting out problems caused by the original lack of an office to support the Administrative Court of Wales, he discusses in detail proposals for change – in relation to the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Tribunal System, and the question of a Welsh Jurisdiction.

The main issue highlighted in relation to the High Court is the fact that although High Court Judges are sent out on Circuit, “itineraries are fixed months in advance and sometimes a High Court Judge is available when suitable work is not and vice versa“. He argues that Wales should be allocated a High Court Judge who could work with the Court Service in Wales to ensure that “High Court work is heard in Wales by High Court Judges”. For the Court of Appeal, he feels an office of the Court of Appeal in Wales should be established, similar to that now supporting the High Court of Wales. For the tribunal system, he suggests “responsibility for every devolved tribunal should be taken from the sponsoring department and vested in an office independent of any deparment whose decision might be the subject of challenge”. He sees an integrated system administered by HCMS Wales.

He concludes with the observation that the various suggestions he has made about the future “are all consistent with Wales being part of the present jurisdiction”, but that Wales’ own jurisdiction and judicial structure is “for the future to decide”.