The Office of the Legislative Counsel (OLC) drafts Welsh laws. Legislative counsel are lawyers who specialise in preparing legislation that it is proposed to pass into law (the terms Parliamentary Counsel and Parliamentary drafters are also widely used).
OLC’s primary purpose is to give effect to Welsh Government policies by drafting Government Bills which are intended to become Acts of the National Assembly.
OLC’s involvement begins when legislation is first being considered and continues throughout the legislative process and beyond. As part of the Bill Team, legislative counsel work closely with lawyers in the Welsh Government’s Legal Services Department, and policy officials to ensure that draft legislation accurately reflects the intention of the legislators, without leaving loopholes or producing perverse results.
OLC seeks to draft legislation in a way that is consistent with Welsh Government’s wider responsibility to respect and uphold the rule of law. The way in which laws are drafted makes a key contribution to a properly functioning legal system: laws must be drafted clearly to promote public understanding and to avoid unfair enforcement; laws must avoid contradictions; and laws must not command the impossible.
OLC shares a responsibility, along with the legislators and policy makers, to maintain the clarity and order of laws applicable to Wales, in what is often referred to as the Welsh statute book. Working within a single England and Wales jurisdiction and within the context of existing legislation that has been enacted both for Wales and England (or the United Kingdom as a whole), OLC aims to separate and demarcate distinct Welsh laws where practicable.
OLC drafts legislation in both Welsh and English. Acts of the National Assembly must be enacted in both languages, with each language having equal legal status.
OLC also advises the Welsh Government on matters of legislative competence, interpretation and procedure.
OLC is headed by Dylan Hughes, who is First Legislative Counsel and Director of the Office. OLC is part of the Office of the First Minister within the Welsh Government.