The referendum of 3 March 2011 heralded a step-change in the devolution process in Wales by affirming and enhancing the distinctive constitutional role of the National Assembly of Wales as a legislature. Devolution has also instigated a process whereby the legal system in Wales is incrementally acquiring its own distinctive legal identity in response to this constitutional change. This process has been labelled Legal Wales, and it heralds the further evolution of an indigenous legal system to serve the needs of contemporary Wales.
The Hywel Dda Institute is a strategic response to the needs of the legal sector and of wider society for knowledge, expertise and training on the legal ramifications of devolution in order to function effectively within the new constitutional settlement. It acknowledges the historic opportunity that has arisen to establish legal scholarship as an essential and dynamic contributor to the development of Legal Wales.
The principal aim of the Hywel Dda Institute, within this context, is to contribute to the maintenance and development of Legal Wales by promoting and facilitating research and other forms of scholarship which reach levels of excellence measured against the highest international standards.
The Institute also aims to foster its links with the other key actors in Wales (such as the National Assembly for Wales, the Welsh Assembly Government and the legal profession in Wales) in order to develop a distinctive mission of wider community engagement.
Institute members welcome expressions of interest in collaboration from potential partners, including applications from potential research students who are interested in researching issues specifically related to the ‘Legal Wales’ agenda, including:
- constitutional law and devolution
- the statutory output of the National Assembly of Wales within its fields of competence
- human rights in Wales
- bilingualism and language rights
- the interaction of law and policy
- legal history
- the application of international, European and UK domestic law in Wales.
The Institute is named in honour of a Welsh king of the tenth century, Hywel ap Cadell (c. 880-950 A.D.), known in history as Hywel ‘Dda’ (‘the good’), who is traditionally associated with the promulgation of the native Welsh laws.