Legal affairs

The vast majority of legal systems in the Commonwealth are founded on English Common Law. There is therefore a shared platform to discuss and advance common interests. Organisations working in this areas include

–  Commonwealth Association of Public Sector Lawyers

–  Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (CJEI)

–  Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)

–  Commonwealth Legal Advisory Service (CLAS)

–  Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA)

–  Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA)



Commonwealth Association of Public Sector Lawyers

PO Box 403, Mosman, New South Wales 2088, Australia

Tel: +61 2 9969 3298 | Fax: +61 2 9969 3298 | Email:

An association of lawyers with a professional concern to promote interest in public sector law and its practice in the Commonwealth, and to provide a focus and forum for the exchange of information and ideas.

Foundation: 1996

Officers: Acting Chair: Greg Ross (Australia); Secretary: Greg Ross (Australia); Assistant Secretary: Nigel Roberts (UK); Treasurer: Michael Antrum (Australia)

Activities: The organisation provides opportunities for contact, and facilitating and promoting exchange and secondment arrangements, between Commonwealth countries. It holds seminars on public sector legal issues.

Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute (CJEI)

Room 306, 6061 University Avenue, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4H9, Canada

Tel: +1 902 494 1002 | Fax: +1 902 494 1031 | Email:

The CJEI is incorporated as a charity under the laws of Nova Scotia, Canada. It was established to provide support for the creation and strengthening of national judicial education bodies; to encourage regional and pan-Commonwealth networking and exchange of human and material resources; to train core judicial education faculty; to develop programme modules for the use of all Commonwealth countries; and to design judicial education programmes to support judicial reform. There are three levels of oversight:

  • the Patrons – a panel made up of Commonwealth chief justices and other distinguished jurists
  • an Advisory Board made up of executive heads of judicial education bodies in Commonwealth countries
  •  a corporate Board of Directors drawn from all regions of the Commonwealth and representative of different levels of court and court administration.

Officers: President: The Rt Hon Sir Dennis Byron; Vice-President: The Hon Justice Madan B Lokur; Chair: Judge (R) Sandra E Oxner; Treasurer/Secretary: Larry Smith CA


Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)CLA_Logo

Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR, UK

Tel: +44 20 7862 8824 | Fax: +44 20 7862 8816 | Email: |

The CLA’s objectives, as enshrined in its constitution, are to maintain and promote the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth by:

  • ensuring that the people of the Commonwealth are served by an independent and efficient legal profession
  • preserving and fostering a common bond of Commonwealth
  • strengthening professional links among lawyers
  • maintaining the honour and integrity of the profession and promoting uniform standards of professional ethics, and
  • supporting improved standards of education and exchanges of lawyers and students.

Foundation: 1983

Officers: President: Mohamed Husain (South Africa); Secretary-General: Claire Martin

Activities: The CLA holds biennial (previously triennial) Commonwealth Law Conferences that are normally organised by the law society/bar council of the host country. The association is developing a programme of capacity-building projects in Commonwealth jurisdictions, in partnership with local law societies and bar associations. Among the areas to be covered are constitutionalism and rule of law, corruption, terrorism and continuing legal education.


Commonwealth Legal Advisory Service (CLAS)

Charles Clore House, 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5JP, UK

Tel: +44 20 7862 5151 | Fax: +44 20 7862 5152 | Email: 

Foundation: 1962

CLAS provides legal research services on request to attorneys-general, other government agencies and official law reform agencies in the Commonwealth in respect of laws and legal developments in Commonwealth jurisdictions.


Commonwealth Legal Education Association (CLEA)

c/o Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat, Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5HX, UK

Tel: +44 20 7747 6415 | Fax: +44 20 7004 3649 | Email: |

CLEA fosters and promotes high standards of legal education in the Commonwealth. Its programme of action is designed to make legal education socially relevant and professionally useful.

Foundation: 1971

Officers: President: David McQuoid-Mason (South Africa); Vice-Presidents: John Hatchard (UK), Ronnie Bodoo Singh, Peter Slinn (UK), Joe Silva (Sri Lanka); General Secretary: Selina Goulbourne (UK)

Activities: CLEA holds conferences on legal education and related topics. It developed model courses for Commonwealth law schools on human rights in the Commonwealth, and tackling transnational crime, tackling corruption and the misuse of public office, and teaching Islamic law. It organises the Commonwealth Law Moot competition, the Commonwealth law students’ essay competition and the Commonwealth Law Lecture series. It publishes a newsletter (3 p.a.), Commonwealth Legal Education, and the Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education (twice yearly).


Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA)

Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX, UK

Tel: +44 20 7976 1007 | Fax: +44 20 7976 2394 | Email:

The CMJA provides a unique network for judicial officers in Commonwealth countries in order to assist them to advance the administration of justice. Thus its aims are to promote the independence of the judiciary; and to advance education in the law, the administration of justice, the treatment of offenders and the prevention of crime.

Foundation: 1970

Officers: President: Her Hon Mrs Justice Norma Wade-Miller; Executive Vice-President: Sir Phillip Bailhache; Secretary General: Dr Karen Brewer

Activities: Promoting and protecting judicial independence and the implementation of the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles and the highest of standards within the judiciary. Running educational conferences and undertaking training for judicial officers at all levels around the Commonwealth at the request of the local or regional judicial organisation, and undertaking projects to improve the administration of justice in the Commonwealth.