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23 February 2015

The laws of Hywel Dda at the Global Law Summit in London

The three day Global Law Summit in London opens today (Monday February 23) to mark 800 years of Magna Carta. The Global Law Summit (Feb 23-25) will bring together over 2,000 leaders in law, business, government and academia from around the world. At the summit, the Welsh Government will highlight the innovative laws of Hywel Dda which predate the Great Charter by nearly 300 years.

Described as Britain’s most enlightened law-maker, Hywel Dda or Hywel the Good was a 10th century Welsh King who brought together learned men from across Wales to Whitland in Pembrokeshire in around 930 AD when traditional rights and duties, some already dating back hundreds of years, were written down or “codified” for the first time.

He created Wales’ first formal legal system some 1085 years ago which became known for its wisdom and justice and recognised the legal status of women and children. It was in force in Wales until the Act of Union with England in 1536.

Documents drafted according to the “Laws of Hywel Dda” survive to the present and images will be reproduced on the Welsh Government’s Legal Wales stand at the Summit’s Business Services Exhibition.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said:

“Hywel Dda was centuries ahead of his time, he was a great innovator and his laws predate Magna Carter by nearly 300 years which is a considerable achievement and something we are proud of. The Global Summit provides us with a great opportunity to highlight the fact that Wales has a very long history of innovation when it comes to the development and delivery of Law.

“We will be using the Summit to promote Wales and our capital city internationally as a great – and cost effective - location for legal firms to expand. We will be highlighting the availability of skilled graduates, the very competitive commercial property costs, plans to deliver up to a million square feet of new Grade A offices in Cardiff as well as major infrastructure investments planned and the benefits of Central Cardiff Enterprise Zone and the wider Cardiff Capital Region.”

The legal sector is part of the rapidly growing financial and professional services sector, with many companies having substantial operations in Cardiff including Eversheds and Blake Morgan.