It is a great pleasure to be invited to speak at the 2018 Legal Wales Conference in Aberystwyth. It is an even greater pleasure to have the opportunity publicly to pay tribute to my predecessor, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, on what has become his home turf following his appointment as Chancellor of Aberystwyth University.
Lord Thomas’ closing speech at last year’s conference was one of his last acts in office as Lord Chief Justice. The year has flown by, but this is my first opportunity in Wales to say how grateful I am for all he has done for the law in Wales, and continues to do.
It is clear from the prominent role he has played today and the many hats that he wears, that his service to Legal Wales may still be in its infancy. Of great importance and interest, and at the heart of his work at the moment, is his chairmanship of the Commission on Justice in Wales, of which he and others spoke this morning. The large numbers of responses to the call for evidence shows the deep interest in the subjects under consideration shown by the legal and political communities in Wales. I look forward to its conclusions and findings with interest.
I regret to say that I cannot claim to have the same Welsh roots as Lord Thomas and many of you here today. I am a Celt through and through but my Celtic stock is Irish and Scottish. Try as I might, I can find no Welsh forebears – my loss, I know. But with that signal deficiency in mind, may I nonetheless make a few observations on my experiences of Wales, as Lord Chief Justice of Wales one year into office, before briefly looking ahead to the future.