The jurisdiction covering much of the UK is named England & Wales. How should one refer to the law of that jursidiction: as 'English law' or 'English & Welsh law'?

A few notes:

  1. The jurisdiction's name is unquestionable, and judicial titles and courts (eg, the Lord Chief Justice) are plainly for 'England & Wales'
  2. The historical development of the law used in this jurisdiction is entirely and overhwelmingly (notwithstanding the excellent contributions of Welsh lawyers and judges and MPs ) the law of England which was colonially imposed on Wales in a series of acts from the 13th to 19th century; it seems like eliding this history to call the law today 'English & Welsh law', and trying to whitewash a legitimate grievance that a Welsh person might have about historical issues
  3. The historical and canonical texts—like Maitland; Dicey, Morris & Collins; Street, etc., etc—all refer to English law, which has not been changed in new editions of these books then (even if the content of that law has changed continuously) Major professorships, such as at the University of Oxford held by Lord Burrows JSC, are of the Law of England, and have not had their titles altered.
  4. However, now that there is an effort to be inclusive, and a recognition of the Welsh contribution to our shared law (especially with the semi-official 'Welsh' seat on the Supreme Court now held by Lord Lloyd-Jones JSC), English & Welsh law could be, if slightly inaccurate, more appropriate
  5. There is a body of distinctly 'Welsh law' arising from Acts of the Sennedd, which is entirely distinct from this question, and may lead, as Lord Thomas called for, to a separate Welsh jurisdiction in the near future, which could resolve all this mess

I am asking about the standard set for describing the law set by leading academic or judicial bodies (eg, from OSCOLA or the Cambridge Redbook or the Administrative Court style guidelines), which can be considered as close to a 'correct' description, rather than opinions, in accordance with SE's rules on factual questions

  • 1
    This is in part a history question. Fact is, that wales hasn't been an independent country since at least the time william the bastard steamrolled the anglo-saxons and rebranded himself conquerer. Wales is the eternal junior partner since then.
    – Trish
    Apr 27, 2021 at 10:11
  • It’s actually to a large degree imported Norman law - England was also forcefully expropriated
    – Dale M
    Apr 27, 2021 at 10:40
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    @Trish Wales was an independent kingdom(s) at the time of the Norman conquest- its subjugation/integration took several centuries
    – Dale M
    Apr 27, 2021 at 10:42
  • @DaleM Wales actually was the creation of William as the "Welsh March" - the welch kingdoms you mean were tributaries of the English throne and started uprisings, which forced him to subjugate them. The result was, that between 1070 and about 1080 most of the welsh semi-independent lords stopped to be independant.
    – Trish
    Apr 27, 2021 at 12:48
  • 1
    @ohwilleke another issue here is that of "Welsh law" denoting law in Wales before 1535 or 1542 when it was subsumed into or supplanted by that of England (i.e. ancient) or denoting matters such as the signage issue you mention, or denoting devolved legislation enacted by the Welsh legislature since its foundation in 1999 (i.e. modern).
    – phoog
    May 28, 2021 at 13:25

2 Answers 2


There is no particular mention in the OSCOLA guidelines for how to refer to laws of England and Wales. In academic papers it is common to see both "English Law" and "English and Welsh Law", usually depending on whether the particular point relates directly to England, Wales or both.

However, in the case of Welsh Measures and Statutory Instruments of Wales then it would be correct to only describe the laws as "Welsh Law".


Parliament themselves refer to them as "English Laws":

English Votes for English Laws (EVEL)

The EVEL process is designed to ensure that legislation that affects only England, or England and Wales, is approved by a majority of MPs representing English constituencies, or English and Welsh constituencies. It also applies to legislation introducing a tax measure that affects only England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which must be approved by a majority of MPs representing constituencies in those areas.


Note that the above process is separate to devolved or reserved matters.

EVEL itself was the outcome of a commission into the West Lothian Question.

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