Since the enactment of the Government of Wales Act 1998, Wales has had its own democratically elected law-making body. At Bangor, we are dedicated to establishing the extent to which the powers subsequently conferred upon the National Assembly for Wales has allowed it to create distinctly Welsh laws. Such research is especially relevant in today’s context since the recent referendum on moving to Part IV of the Government of Wales Act 2006. This research is carried out in the context of the powers devolved to other nations within the UK, and to other regions and nations throughout Europe.
Dr. Alison Mawhinney completed her undergraduate studies at Trinity College Dublin where she graduated with a BA (Hons) in Political Science. She completed a LLM in International Human Rights Law (Distinction) at the University of Essex and a PhD at Queen's University Belfast. Prior to joining academia, she worked for a variety of organizations in the field of human rights including the Council of Europe, the Organization for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations. From 2006-2010, she was a lecturer at the School of Law, Queen's University Belfast, where she taught constitutional law and devolution and served as Assistant Director of the Human Rights Centre. She joined the School of Law at Bangor University in 2011.
Dr. Osian Dafydd Rees graduated with first class honours in the LLB from Aberystwyth, winning the prestigious Sir Samuel Evans prize as the best law graduate in his year within the University of Wales as a whole. He has since successfully completed a PhD on the role of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales. He has won funding from the Family Justice Council for North Wales to conduct research for them in his area of expertise. His work has involved critical examination of the exercise of the powers of the Assembly and the Assembly Government.
Nuffield Foundation Funded Research Project: Regionalisation of the Administrative Court and Access to Justice
April 21, 2009 was a landmark date in the public law history of England and Wales. On this day the Royal Courts of Justice in London lost their effective monopoly over Administrative Court claims. Four new “fully operational” centres opened for business in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds and Manchester. According to the relevant Practice Direction the stated aim of the reforms is, “…to facilitate access to justice by enabling cases to be administered in the most appropriate location.” Recourse to judicial review enables the vindication by citizens of their basic rights against public authorities. The Administrative Court often acts as a constitutional court adjudicating upon the powers of public bodies, establishing standards of legal propriety, and acting as a guardian of our most fundamental rights. It is vital that access to this court should not be impeded due to its location. Nevertheless, factors such as the logistical deployment of judges, potential increases in already prevalent inconsistency at the permission stage, patchy provision of specialist legal services in the regions, co-ordination of similar claims and the spectre of additional delays caused by so-called “forum shopping” may hamper the success of regionalisation. What is not in doubt is that these reforms have the potential to overwhelmingly alter the current picture of judicial review litigation in England and Wales.
This pilot, collaborative research, with the University of Essex and the Public Law Project aims to critically evaluate the connection between regionalisation and access to justice. The initial socio-legal research funded by an approx £9000 small grant from the Nuffield Foundation aims to collect important background data on the usage of the Administrative Court by claimants located in the affected regions, assessing possible levels of currently unmet demand for judicial review litigation. The research also considers the existing spread of legal services in the regions, and the important views of practitioners, both in the regions and in London, as to how regionalisation will positively or negatively affect their practices.
Within the next few years, the second, major stage, of research will be to utilise the background data to fully evaluate the effects of the reforms on issues such as: access to good quality, timely, administrative justice, the impact on the geographical provision of relevant legal services both within the affected regions and within London, and the quality and consistency of judicial decisions.
Publications in this field include:
“Regionalisation of the Administrative Court and the Tribunalisation of Judicial Review”  Public Law 440.
“Regionalisation of the Administrative Court” 14 (1) Judicial Review (2009) 1.
Professor John Alder
Prof John Alder has been a visiting Professor and part time lecturer at Bangor since February 2008. Before then he was Professor of law at Newcastle University where he is now an Emeritus Professor. He has also taught at Keele University where he was Head of Department and at Exeter and Birmingham universities. His main research interests are in the areas of Judicial Review, Human Rights and Environmental Law. His most recent publication, with Dr Chris Handy, concerned the question whether social landlords are public or private bodies (2009) 12 Journal of Housing Law 101. .He is currently working on a study of forms of liberalism as manifest in European Constitutions together with a colleague in Portugal
At Bangor University the module ‘Law and Religion’ examines two distinct yet increasingly inter-related areas of this important and, at times, controversial area of study. First, it explores the position of established, disestablished and other non-established bodies in the United Kingdom. In addition, it looks at models of ecclesiastical law in other European jurisdictions. Secondly, the module examines the right to freedom of religion or belief in the UK and other European states as found in domestic and regional human rights law. It considers how the law attempts to accommodate a variety of belief systems in the public sphere and the workplace, and asks whether freedom of religion standards can meet the contemporary challenges of today’s diverse society.