There’s lots of talk about cultural diversity in the law, so three cheers for the Courts Service, which this week announced that Welsh speakers will be encouraged to use their mother tongue in magistrates’ courts.
Next stop: the tribunals service, which is carrying out a similar exercise with a view to becoming fully compliant within four years.
Key to this are two judges: Eleri Rees, who is director of training for the Welsh-speaking judiciary, and Gary Hickinbottom, a former Camerons solicitor who was appointed to the bench in 2000 (and who is probably best known for his ruling last year on Shambo, the controversial sacred cow in Llanpumsaint, Carmarthenshire).
The Welsh Language Act 1993 established the principle of equality between the English and Welsh, but principles don’t get carried out into practice. After all, as the protocol truculently points out, “nid yw’r ffaith bod yr unigolyn yn ddwyieithog ac yn gymwys yn y Saesneg yn effeithio nac yn cyfyngu ar ei hawl ddefnyddio’r Gymraeg“.
We couldn’t agree more.