The Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the accountability of the relationship between the three branches of Government 

In June 1998, a group of distinguished parliamentarians, judges, lawyers and legal academics drafted guidelines which would provide an operational manual of good practice with regard to the fundamental values of the Commonwealth and the commitments contained in the Harare Commonwealth Declaration and Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme. The guidelines were further refined and endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government in November 2003 as the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationship between the Three Branches of Government (the Principles). 

The Principles provide an effective framework for the implementation of the Commonwealth's fundamental values of democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law and became an integral part of these values following agreement by the Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in 2005.

The Principles essentially provide a roadmap for democracy and good governance through their emphasis on the separation of powers between the three branches of government as guarantors of the rule of law, promotion and protection of fundamental human rights and the entrenchment of good governance based on the highest standards of honesty, probity and accountability. The ability of citizens to hold their governments to account, in addition to an independent and efficient judiciary, reduces the prevalence of corruption and has a significant impact on transparency and improved governance.

The CLA has been actively engaged in the promotion and implementation of the Principles, most notably through the Nairobi Plan of Action for Africa, and continues to work towards strengthening and developing the Principles further and is a member of the Latimer House Working Group. Read the guidelines



In 2012 the Commonwealth identified Cybercrime as one of the leading areas of concern for Commonwealth states.  Hon. Life President Mr Colin Nicholls QC, was approached to lead the Commonwealth Working Group on Cybercrime. 

The report of the group accepted at the Law Ministers' Meeting in Botswana in 2014 read more:


Blaphemy Legislation in the Commonwealth

Project Leader:  Alexander Ward - Immediate Past President (Australia)

In 2012 CLA identified some concerns regarding the increasing use of blasphemy legislation in the Commonwealth and commenced a project to examine how legislation was used as a remedy by courts in Malta, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Australia

The project was supported by a number of young voluntary authors.  In 2013 CLA sought further assistance to complete the work on Pakistan. 


The Death Penalty

In 2009 the Commonwealth Lawyers Association published is policy on the death penalty.

Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) - Policy on the Death Penalty

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) is opposed to the death penalty as a form of punishment in all instances.

Whilst acknowledging the sovereignty of all governments, the CLA is committed to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty in Commonwealth jurisdictions wherever it remains as an available sentence.

It is the position of the CLA that regardless of the nature of the crime an individual is alleged to have committed, the nationality of that individual, or the proposed method of execution, no individual should be subjected to the death penalty.

The CLA opposes all forms of torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

The CLA is committed to working with its members, local, regional and international legal and human rights organisations and governmental entities to abolish the death penalty for capital and all other offences.

In 2011 Professor William Schabas presented his paper "The Commonwealth and the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights" commissioned by CLA to the meeting of Commonwealth Senior Officials of the Law Minister (SOLM) in London. 

The Australian Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade: Inquiry into Australia's Advocacy for the Abolition of the Death Penalty 2015 

In October, 2015 the CLA made a submission to the committee. Ron Heinrich AM, past President of the CLA, is due to address the committee in November 2015.  A copy of the submission may be seen in our latest news section. On 5 May, 2016, the Australian government published its final report. read the report


Freedom of Expression 

On the 20th October, 2015 the CLA together with the CJA, CMJA and COSW, presented a joint paper to Commonwealth Committee of the Whole in a pre CHOGM meeting for Civil Society Organisation arranged by the Commonwealth Secretariat. The paper entitle "Freedom of Expression: Rights and Responsibilites" will be noted in the final commumnique of the meeting.  read the paper

Magna Carta to Commonwealth Charter 

 The Magna Carta to Commonwealth Charter Exhibition organised by the CLA, CLEA and CMJA was launched in Glasgow on 12th April 2015 at the 19th Commonwealth Law Conference. 

It was opened by Mr Alexander Ward, CLA’s new President from Australia,  Chief Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale, Caribbean Regional Vice President  of the CMJA and Chief Justice of Turks and Caicos and Prof David  McQuoid-Mason, President of the CLEA from South Africa who jointly cut  the ribbon to open the Exhibition. 

The Exhibition was opened in the presence of the Minister for Community, Safety and Legal Affairs, The Rt. Hon Paul Wheelhouse, the immediate past President of the CLA, English solicitor, Mark Stephens, and the representative of Glasgow, Bailie Jonathan Findlay as well as representatives from over 56 jurisdictions in the Commonwealth and beyond attending the Conference. The Exhibition is now making its way to Osgoode Hall in Toronto,  Canada where it will be on display from 4-15 May 2015 before travelling to Barbados, Malawi, Malaysia and then on to Wellington, New Zealand.


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