The visit is part of an investigation into the most appropriate way to structure a programme of simplifying and consolidating legislation in Wales, with the goal of achieving a cohesive Welsh “statute book”.
New Zealand has interesting arrangements in place to ensure access to legislation, and more generally has systems of developing and drafting legislation that are different to those used in the UK. The systems may offer a partial precedent that Wales could use in developing its own systems needed with the growth of legislation emanating from the National Assembly in Cardiff.
In Wellington, the Counsel General, will meet The Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer SC, a former Prime Minister, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of New Zealand, who was responsible for considerable reforms to the country's constitutional framework. He will also meet the current Attorney General, The Hon Chris Finlayson MP, the Solicitor General, Michael Heron, Chief Parliamentary Counsel Bill Moore, and the President of the Law Commission, Sir Grant Hammond SC. He will visit the Supreme Court, and meet Supreme Court Justice The Honourable Justice John McGrath.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Theodore Huckle QC said:
"I have previously announced our aim to bring forward a comprehensive programme of consolidation and revision of Welsh law, with the goal of achieving a cohesive body of Welsh legislation. The goal is to develop a Welsh statute book, and to influence its shape and character.
"Accessing Welsh legislation and understanding the law as it applies to Wales is currently difficult due to it being intertwined with laws that apply also to England and the rest of the UK. Wales's unique circumstances require an innovative approach, looking beyond what has historically been done in the UK to reform and consolidate legislation, and we can certainly learn from the experience of Commonwealth countries such as New Zealand and Canada."
The principle of consolidation is shortly to be entrenched in New Zealand with the Attorney General to be under a duty to promote a rolling programme of consolidation Bills. Consolidation is also assisted in New Zealand in the way the statute book is structured due to there being an element of codification.
Like New Zealand, Australia also has a system where laws are regularly consolidated. During a short stop-over in Sydney, the Counsel General will take the opportunity to meet to discuss these issues with the Attorney General of New South Wales, The Hon Greg Smith SC MP, Don Colaguiri, the Chief Parliamentary Counsel of New South Wales (NSW) and Paul Millar, General Counsel, Department of the Premier, Government of New South Wales.
Mr Huckle added:
"It is important to learn from the experience of others and to explore structures and procedures that have been put in place in other Commonwealth jurisdictions. The visit also offers an opportunity to raise the profile of the Welsh Government as an institution willing to work proactively to improve accessibility to Welsh law.
"My visit to New Zealand and Australia will provide an opportunity to gain an insight into how the systems in place in the various jurisdictions work in practice, and how they might be tailored to respond to the current issues that we face in Wales. This will help us ensure that any reforms we put in place are based on the best possible evidence and so result in a system best suited to the needs of Wales."