The law in Wales is constantly evolving and there is increasing divergence between the law in England and the law in Wales.
We are experts in the Welsh devolution settlement and are committed to helping our clients navigate this diverging legal landscape. This is an important area for those looking to do business in Wales.
Following the implementation of the reserved powers model, Wales is now able to pass legislation on more areas than ever before and there is now a considerable distinct body of Welsh law. This area is expanding and examples of where the law in Wales diverges from that in England include:
- Planning law: Planning (Wales) Act 2015 significantly amended planning legislation as it applies to development in Wales and also introduced the concept of Developments of National Significance. Different permitted development rights and use classes apply in Wales compared to England and an entirely separate legislative regime exists relating to the installation of sustainable drainage systems (SuDs) on new developments in Wales.
- Building Regulations: we are beginning to see changes to the Building Regulations including a requirement to install automatic fire suppression systems on certain developments in Wales, and major reforms to building safety in Wales are likely to follow.
- Environment: Environment (Wales) Act 2016 establishes a legislative framework for the sustainable management of natural resources in Wales and improvement of biodiversity.
- Housing: Housing (Wales) Act 2014 provides a new system of regulation for landlords and letting agents in the private rented sector, under which all private sector landlords must be registered, trained as ‘fit and proper’ and hold a “Rent Smart Wales” licence. Although not yet in force, the Renting Homes Wales Act 2016 aims to consolidate and modernise the existing complex raft of private rented sector legislation into one new piece of legislation under which all existing private residential tenancies and licences will be replaced by a secure or standard occupation contract.
- Social Housing: Wales has its own social housing regulator and regulatory rules and procedures. Quality standards and policy considerations are also different. Wales has a distinct range of affordable home ownership schemes such as HomeBuy Wales and Rent First Wales.
- Education: The Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018 which came into force in September 2021 will see a substantial change and overhaul of the current system for students with special educational needs (under the new act, known as ‘additional learning needs’) in Wales.
- Winning public contracts in Wales: the obligations on the contractor will be influenced by Welsh Government and other policies in Wales, for example there may be an obligation regarding the delivery of services in the Welsh language. It is also anticipated that the rules around competitive tendering of public contracts will diverge in the future.
- Challenging public body decisions: public bodies in Wales have a range of statutory duties such as those under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and the Equality Act 2010 which permeate and influence decision making in Wales. If these statutory duties are not duly considered by a public body, then this may form the basis of a legal challenge.
- Covid-19 pandemic: there has been a raft of legislation specific to Wales in response to the pandemic, including a temporary suspension on evictions in both the social and private rental sectors.
We have fluent Welsh speakers who can provide advice bilingually and transact in Welsh.