CLA News / CLA President Peter D Maynard KC launches new initiatives for CLA members


“It is always impossible until it is done.” 

Nelson Mandela

With the persistent optimism of Mandela’s quote, it is an honour and a pleasure to welcome you to this newsletter and to thank all persons who contributed to its content and production at a time when the CLA continues its transformation.  The seats around the Council table are open to all fifty-six countries of the Commonwealth.  This diversity was reflected somewhat in the attendance by more than five hundred colleagues from across the Commonwealth in Goa, India for the 23rd Commonwealth law Conference (CLC) in March 2023, and in the excellent content during that week of five simultaneous streams of topics, as well as keynote speeches, the Bar Leaders Forum and the Goa Declaration, and the Young CLA programme.  There is little doubt from the positive feedback over the years that the biennial CLC is quite possibly the leading conference on the law calendar.  We look forward with great anticipation to CLC Malta in 2025.

However, how are members engaged between CLCs?  The CLA has an outstanding record of accomplishment, ranging from the Latimer House Principles to statements on the pressing issues of the day.  But three short to medium term objectives are being implemented: (1) deepen the engagement of CLA members in the protection of human rights, the rule of law, and the independence of judges and lawyers, (2) expand the value proposition of the CLA for members through active networking, committees, projects, and training opportunities, and (3) improve the financial viability of the CLA.  It is necessary to move away from the model of overreliance on the CLC for operational revenue for the following two years.

Therefore, a focus of my travel so far to India, Singapore, Ghana, and the UK was to engage and attract lawyers, firms, corporate members and institutional sponsors to join and participate meaningfully in the CLA.

Strong membership and expanded value go hand in hand.  Each reinforces the other.  Therefore, the aim by the third quarter of 2023 is to fully activate the Hubs and Committees, which are all member driven.  The four regional Hubs – Africa, Americas, Australasia and Europe – have been asked to settle a programme including in-person events.  Likewise, the YCLA and seven CLA Committees are expected each to have exciting activities.  The seven Committees are ADR, Climate Justice, Corporate and Commercial, Human Rights and Rule of Law, Law Tech, Family Law and Public and Administrative Law.

The projects or committees include the CLA Online Institute and E-Library, Pro Bono Advice and Assistance Panel, Women Lawyers Initiative, Rapid Response Mechanism, Affinity Card, and the Risk Audit and Finance Committee.  For example, I am pleased that the first Women Lawyers Initiative event takes place through the Africa Hub in Livingstone, Zambia in early July 2023.  The other Hubs are expected to follow suit, and the Initiative will culminate in a global event.

Ongoing longer-term objectives include strategic planning and review to ensure that CLA governance is accountable, transparent, responsive, equitable and inclusive, consensus-oriented and participatory, efficient and effective.

I anticipate that my travel over the next several months will take me to the Gambia, Malta, Papua New Guinea, Guyana, Kenya, Nigeria before the Bar AGM in Abuja in August, and South Africa before the BRICS meeting in December.

Much is to be accomplished, thanks to the entire team of CLA doers (evoked by Mandela’s quote). In anticipation I thank the Vice Presidents namely Linda Kasonde (Africa), Laurie Pawlitza (Americas), Hasan Khan (Australasia), Mark Stephens (Europe), and Treasurer Maria Mbeneka, as well as ExCo and Council members, the Committee and Project co-conveners, Secretary General Brigid Watson, Clare Roe, Evie Wilson, and you the reader of this newsletter.