Dhooharika v The Director of Public Prosecutions: Judgement Released

An important milestone for freedom of speech has been reached in the Commonwealth, in the case of a newspaper editor jailed in Mauritius for publishing criticisms of the countries Chief Justice.  Today the Privy Council quashed his conviction and sentence and narrowed the office of “Scandalising the Court” used in many commonwealth countries to punish editors and journalists who criticise the judiciary. 

Read the judgement here

On: 16th April 2014 Read more
The Commonwealth Lawyers Association expresses its deep sorrow and concern  

at the recent gun and bomb attack at court premises in Islamabad, Pakistan killing 10 people, including Additional Sessions Judge Rafaqat Ahmed Khan Awan.


CLA expresses its full solidarity with the members of the Pakistan Bar Council and condemns this terrorist attack and all forms of terrorism. An independent judiciary is essential to upholding the rule of law and such attacks threaten the safety and security of judicial officers and the members of the bar.


CLA hopes that going forward the local authorities will provide adequate security at the court complex and take stringent measures to ensure that the independence of the judiciary and the bar is not compromised by such attacks.

Mark Stephens CBE, President of the CLA aid, "Whilst the thoughts of the community of Commonwealth Lawyers are with the families of Judge Rafaqat Ahmed khan Awan and the other deceased.  We remember that without brave and independent judges and the rule of law we risk descending into anarchy.  It is for this reason that the Islamabad authorities must assure the safety of our fellow legal professionals."

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association is an international organisation  founded on human rights principles and which exists to promote and maintain the rule of law throughout the Commonwealth by ensuring that an independent and efficient legal profession with the highest standards of ethics and integrity serves the people of the Commonwealth.
On: London 11th March, 2014 Read more
Statement on Public Prosecutor v. Karpal Singh

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association are disappointed that on the 21st February, the Kuala Lumpur High Court found well-known constitutional lawyer Karpal Singh guilty of committing sedition against the Sultan of Perak in 2009 for saying his decision to replace the state’s Mentri Besar (meaning the Chief Minister of the state government of Perak, one of the states in Malaysia) is justiciable and could therefore be challenged in a court of law. Mr. Singh, who was charged under Section 4(1)(b) of the Sedition Act, could now face a maximum three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine or both.

CLA President, Mark Stephens, CBE, said, “Sedition is a crime introduced in a Colonial era and is unsuited for criminalising speech, and less so, to be prosecuted against a lawyer expressing an opinion in a modern democratic society. Sedition, like scandalizing the Court, was part of the armoury of criminal laws designed by an Imperial Power to shore up the position of minority white rule. These laws have no place in any modern democratic society.”

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association CLA, acted as trial observers with our colleagues at LAWASIA in the case brought against Mr Singh in 2009.  The Malaysian Bar’s Vice President, and CLA Council member Mr Steven Thiru said “The right of a citizen (in this case a senior and experienced lawyer) to voice an opinion on a constitutional law point, that is, whether the decision of a Ruler of a State is justiciable in the courts, is clearly within the scope of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 10 (1)(a) the Constitution”.

The CLA expresses support to our colleagues of the Malaysian Bar Council in calling for the removal of the Sedition Act of 1948, by which charges have been brought to bear on Mr Singh. The CLA has commissioned the distinguished senior advocate and CLA Hon. Life President, Dr Cyrus Das, to hold a watching brief at the hearing for sentence of this unusual case.

We uphold Mr Singh’s right as a fully qualified and highly experienced lawyer to offer a professional interpretation of the law without fear of persecution.

We urge the government of Malaysia, as a party to Commonwealth Charter and the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles, which provide a roadmap for democracy and good governance, to consider the proportionality, necessity and relevance of Sedition laws in a thriving twenty-first century democracy. 


Commonwealth Lawyers Association

1st March, 2014

On: 1st March, 2014 Read more

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association is a professional membership organisation promoting the rule of law across the Commonwealth through improved professional standards, education and networking.  Our membership is made up of judiciary, lawyers, academics and law students from across the globe. If you are interested in membership please use the membership tab on this website or contact us at the membership services email address:  We look forward to hearing from you!

Breaking News
Karpal Singh killed in road accident
For all our latest news you can follow us on Twitter:  @cla_lawyers 

Latest  In-Country Events (ICE)

Mediation across the Commonwealth

This Conference will address comparative practice and policy concerning mediation.  A key note address will be “Halsey 10 years on” a retrospective consideration of the seminal case of Halsey v Milton Keynes National Health Trust.  The speaker will beLord Dyson, Master of the Rolls and Head of Civil Justice UK, who delivered the main Judgement in the Halsey case. 

We are delighted to welcome our second key note speaker Professor Laurence Boulle who will deliver a Master Class on mediation practice (spaces limited) and will speak on“Lawyers, Mediators and Judges within and outside mediation”.  Professor Boulle is a well-known author and commentator on mediation.  In addition there will be contributions from Lord Kerr of the UK Supreme Court, fromMr Justice McCloskey of the High Court in Northern Ireland and from other distinguished practitioners and academics from England, Scotland, Canada and Nigeria.

 The Conference will take place in the Conor Lecture Hall, University of Ulster, Belfast.  Details will be forthcoming from the Law Society of Northern Ireland web site and expressions of interest and bookings can be made to .

A Conference brochure is now available.  Early booking is recommended


Beatrice Mtetwa Trial Report Released

A Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) mission has found that the arrest and detention of Zimbabwean attorney Beatrice Mtetwa breached the rule of law. The CLA’s final report on the trial observation mission undertaken to monitor the trial of the Zimbabwean human rights lawyer was released on 24 February 2014. The mission was conducted between March and November 2013 by a trial observer team comprising staff at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI).  To download a copy of the report please follow the link here:
How Much do You Know About the Commonwealth??
Commonwealth Leagal Information Institute
Contact Details

17 Russell Square,
London, WC1B 5DR,

UK Tel: +44 (0)207 862 8824      
Fax: +44 (0)207 862 8816

Copyright 2012 The Commonwealth Lawyers Association