One of the lasting slogans of the Brexit campaign was the demand to 'take back control' of our laws without ever defining what 'our laws' meant.

There is, and never has been, any concept of British or UK law. Instead, we have three different legal systems administering four sets of laws. And that’s without counting the separate systems in Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man which have little connection to London.

As part of the treaty that created the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707, the Scots kept their courts and their laws.

Scotland’s legal system is based on a different set of principles to the rest of the UK and lawyers qualified outside Scotland can’t practise there. The Scottish Parliament has the authority to enforce its own laws and controls its policing and justice system.

The same is true of Northern Ireland, although it is what lawyers call a “common law jurisdiction” which means it operates to the same principles as everybody else in the UK and islands, apart from Scotland. It has its own courts and controls its justice system. It’s also easy for lawyers from England or Wales to practise there because the system is so similar.

What about the rest? That sits in the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales. We lost our laws in 1536 when English common law was introduced into Wales and our own system abolished. Wales was absorbed into England. That’s so long ago that most people think the current legal system is indigenous to Wales.

This jurisdiction is also the only one in the world that has two parliaments sitting within it. Even more confusingly there exists the law of England and Wales and a separate body of law called Welsh law. Confused? I’m not surprised.

The normal course of events would be that where there is a parliament, it has a jurisdiction and controls the enforcement of its own laws and the means of doing that.

In the US, all of the states have their own jurisdictions which run parallel to the federal jurisdiction. The Welsh Parliament is the only one is the world that doesn’t have this. It means Wales alone doesn’t have the jurisdiction to enforce its own laws. It relies on another parliament (Westminster) to do that.

Does this make a difference? I argue that it does. Many people, whom I regard as friends, take a different view: but it can’t be right that the legal system that enforces Welsh law isn’t administered by the Welsh Parliament.

It can’t be right that the entire system of administering Welsh law is controlled from outside Wales. There are those who argue the current system has served Wales well, but offer little evidence to back this up.

Let’s look at the police. They are not answerable to the Welsh Government at all, but to the Home Office. That’s not the case in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Welsh police forces have to compete with much larger English forces for funding. Alone of all the UK nations, the people of Wales have no say through their government as to what policing should look like.

Again, there are those who make the argument that separate arrangements for Wales would lead to a lack of co-operation with forces in England when crime recognises no borders. In that case, why is Scottish and Northern Irish policing not run from London?

The answer is there’s plenty of co-operation regardless of which government a force is answerable to. I saw this myself during the Nato Summit in Newport when forces from around the UK helped to police the event.

Some of my legal colleagues will say barriers would be created between Wales and elsewhere and we would lose access the specialist legal advice available in London. They are right to point out that London is indeed a world centre for legal advice, but nobody is suggesting Welsh qualified lawyers would be prevented from practising in England and vice versa. Northern Ireland lawyers aren’t.

People also talk about the cost and here they have a point. Wales would have to pay for its own system of justice. When you consider the current system has created an inadequate prison system where so many Welsh prisoners serve sentences outside Wales and where all women prisoners are held in England, you might start thinking we need to invest and control our own system.

When you look at the number of rural courts that have been shut down in Wales by somebody in London looking at a map without understanding the consequences of their actions, you might think our justice system has failed to make itself available to many of our people.

All of this has been looked at in a report by Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, a former Lord Chief Justice (the top criminal judge in England and Wales). The UK Government rejected that report before they’d even read it.

Nobody is suggesting there can changes overnight and devolution of the justice system would take some time. That doesn’t mean it should be dismissed out of hand.

In the meantime, we continue to be the only country in the UK whose laws are enforced from outside. That imbalance can’t last forever.

If you value The National's contribution to Wales' conversation, help grow our team of reporters by becoming a subscriber.