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Constitution: Justice Secretary rules out separate legal jurisdiction for Wales

The Justice Secretary has ruled out a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales, but called on senior judges to spend more time deliberating on Welsh cases in Wales, reports Wales Online.

Chris Grayling appeared to rule out Wales gaining independence from the English judicial system, saying that a move to separate the Welsh judiciary from its English counterparts was not 'on the table'.

Addressing the issue of a separate jurisdiction in Wales, he queried the value of the idea. 

"If you live just over the border in Chester is your local town Wrexham or Chester?" he said.

"I'm personally sceptical about the benefits to Wales of a wholly separate jurisdiction," he added.

However, he accepted that judges needed to devote more time to Welsh cases and he called on senior judges to spend more time hearing cases in Wales.

Grayling identified the appointment of Sir John Thomas as the next Lord Chief Justice as a positive step for the Welsh judiciary, adding that with a Welshman in the top job, Wales would receive adequate representation in the upper echelons of justice.

Sir Thomas is a fellow of Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Swansea and Bangor Universities and will begin his role as Lord Chief Justice on 1 October.

"With a Welsh Lord Chief Justice there won't need to be much pushing [for judges to do more in Wales] - he will be a champion for Wales come what may," Grayling said.

The Welsh Government has identified a separate legal jurisdiction for Wales as part of their long-term plan for devolution, and believes that laying foundations for such a change now could be beneficial.

Among the ideas put forward by the Welsh Government to the Silk Commission, which is investigating changes to Welsh devolution, are plans to create separate offices for the High Court and Court of Appeal in Wales.