The Welsh Government has introduced its first programme to improve the accessibility of Welsh law, as required by the Legislation (Wales) Act 2019. The programme commits the Government to bringing forward consolidation Bills and take a number of other technical steps to make it easier for citizens to find and understand the law.
The programme is also available on GOV.WALES in HTML format.
Consolidation of several different existing Acts (or bringing them together) to create one well-drafted, bilingual Act is one of the most effective ways of improving the accessibility of Welsh law, and will lay the foundation for establishing Codes of Welsh law.
The first consolidation Act, the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2023, was passed by Senedd Cymru in March 2023. This Act forms part of a Code of law relating to the historic environment of Wales.
Codes of Welsh law improve the accessibility of the law in Wales and is an approach that will be adopted in future consolidation Acts and in any reform Acts that contain a comprehensive statement of the primary legislation on a particular topic. Codes of law are intended to help persons interested in the law on a particular topic — the historic environment in this first instance — find and classify it more easily. The reference to the Act’s status has been included with a view to subordinate legislation made under the Act making identical provision. Classifying Acts in this way is consistent with recommendations made by the Law Commission in its report Form and Accessibility of the Law Applicable in Wales (Law Com No 366, 2016). That report acknowledged the importance for the accessibility of the law of maintaining the integrity of the law. Giving an Act the status of a code is intended to encourage a move away from a situation where the law on a particular topic is spread across a number of separate pieces of primary legislation. Rather, the intention is that future Senedd Acts are enacted and maintained in a way that allows users of the legislation to find as much of the law affecting a particular topic as possible by reading a single Senedd Act or subordinate legislation made under it.
Under section 2(7) of the Legislation (Wales) Act 2019, a report setting out the progress made under the Government’s programme to improve the accessibility of Welsh law must be laid before the Senedd each year.
The annual reports are published on the GOV.WALES website.