Rhodri Williams QC and Nia Gowman successful in landmark Welsh-language judicial review case

July 30 2020

Rhodri Williams QC and Nia Gowman appear for successful Claimant in landmark High Court judicial review case on determination of school reorganisation proposals pursuant to the School Standard and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the standing of the Welsh language as a language of the law for the purpose of statutory interpretation.

The case involved the Judicial Review of the Local Authority’s decision to reorganise primary, secondary and sixth form greater Pontypridd area.

The Claimant maintained that the Local Authority had breached The School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and School Organisational Code 2013 and invited the Court to quash the Local Authority’s decision.

The Court held:

  • That the Local Authority had breached The School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 by failing to refer to the Welsh Ministers proposals to close two high schools including their respective sixth forms. The ruling means that all proposals affecting sixth form education including the establishment or closure of any school with a sixth form must be referred to the Welsh Ministers.
  • That the Welsh language text of legislation is of equal standing to the English text. The statutory meaning of the Welsh text is therefore not to be derived by construing the meaning of the English text, rather the meaning must be consistent across the texts in both languages. The ruling means that where there are Welsh-English bilingual versions of legislation, both versions must be considered, applied and interpreted equally.
  • The Local Authority had breached the School Organisational Code 2013 by failing to consider how the closure of a Welsh-medium primary school would impact upon Welsh medium provision generally and upon Welsh medium secondary education. The ruling recognises the inevitable link between Welsh medium primary provision and Welsh medium secondary provision, highlights the importance of the Welsh language for the people of Wales and stresses the requirement to give due to consideration to the effect of any proposals on the Welsh language.
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