CLA News / New Year’s message from the CLA President Peter D Maynard KC


Warm greetings and happy new year! I hope that 2024 is a healthy and successful year for you, your families and the CLA.

The past year has been a testament to the collective dedication and resilience of our members. We have achieved remarkable milestones in advancing the mission of our Association. Our Association continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the legal landscape within the Commonwealth. Through the CLC Goa, webinars, networking events, advocacy, and partnerships with other organizations, we have not only upheld the highest standards of legal practice, but have also made a positive impact on the wider international community.

Member Engagement, Networking, Professional Development and Sponsorship

A primary objective has been to provide a platform for robust member engagement, networking, and professional development, and at the same time, sponsorship and income streams to finance our work. Throughout the coming year, our conferences, workshops, webinars and networking events will facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration among our members. These efforts aim to ensure that our members stay abreast of the latest legal developments, and maintain the highest ethical standards in their practice.

Our commitment to advocacy remains unwavering. We intervene to support lawyers and judges and to address legal issues that affect the most vulnerable among us. Interventions are consistent with our core objectives of upholding human rights, the independence of lawyers and judges, and the rule of law. We have endeavored to make a positive impact beyond the courtroom and the boardroom.

Looking Ahead 

As we look ahead in 2024, our focus remains on fostering a strong sense of cooperation and collaboration among our members, promoting diversity and inclusion, and continuing to be a force for positive change in the legal profession.

Members have invested their time, talent and money in the formation of committees and projects of the CLA. 2024 is a year to bring those committees and projects to fruition and to provide long term  growth for the CLA.

The legal landscape is dynamic, and adapting to change is essential for our Association’s continued success. The infrastructure is in place for this adaptability.

As you will be aware, our current structure encompasses four CLA geographical Hubs:

  1. Africa (Vice President Linda Kasonde)
  2. Americas (Vice President Laurie Pawlitza) with a Canadian sub-hub
  3. Australasia (Vice President Hasan Khan)
  4. Europe (Vice President Mark Stephens CBE)

In addition to the above, we also convene CLA members only Committees, and we invite the engagement of members, institutions and sponsors  as follows:

  1. ADR (Santhaan Krishnan and René Baptiste)
  2. Climate Justice (Fiona Ey and Hasan Khan)
  3. Corporate & Commercial Law (Renée St Rose and Muddasir Hossain)
  4. Family Law (Laurie Pawlitza and Mark Woods)
  5. Human Rights and Rule of Law (Sophie Stanbrook and David Greene)
  6. Law Technology and Ethics (Amirali Nasir and Maria Mbeneka)
  7. Public and Administrative Law (Ron Heinrich and Trudi Pye)
  8. Young Commonwealth Lawyers – the YCLA (Hadassah Igoche and Siddharth Sijoria)

Please do contact the Secretariat if you would like to join,engage or support any of the above and they will be pleased to provide additional information.

Projects for 2024 include :

  1. CLA Online Training Institute & E-library (Justice John Carey)
  2. Affinity Card Committee (Secretariat)
  3. Pro Bono Advice and Assistance Panel (John Almeida)
  4. Women Lawyers Initiative (Hub Vice Presidents)
  5. Strategic Plan (Hubs, Committees, Secretariat)
  6. Rapid Response Mechanism (Brian Speers, Steven Thiru, Linda Kasonde, Salieu Taal, Ruggles Ferguson KC, René Baptiste)
  7. Risk Audit & Finance Committee (RAF) (Maria Mbeneka, Sophie Stanbrook, Mark Woods, Secretariat)
  8. Constitutional Review (Ron Heinrich, John McKendrick KC, Former CLA President Boma Alabi, Ruggles Ferguson KC)

By the end of the first quarter of 2024, we will have completed elections and summoned the new Council to launch a new strategic period. Voting for the new Council will open on 17th January and close at 5.00 pm GMT on 19th January so please do make sure that if you are a CLA member, you have cast your votes in the seats and At Large positions that are contested. We thank all our outgoing Council members for their time, energy and commitment over the last two years and we look forward to welcoming the new incumbents to a fruitful period of office.

As we look ahead,  we expect to complete a constitutional review with the help of the review team with details to follow in due course over the coming weeks.

A major project of the first quarter is the Borneo Rainforest Law Conference 26th-28th February in Kota Kinabalu. In partnership with the Sabah Law Society, the Conference has an excellent programme and speaking faculty, and takes place in the spectacular surroundings of Borneo. With the Assistant Secretary General of the Commonwealth, the President of the Malaysian Bar and President of LAWASIA attending, we look forward to engaging debates in this developing field of interest for the CLA and its Climate Justice Committee. It is hoped that you will attend and encourage others to make this a success.

We continue with our preparations for the 24th Commonwealth Law Conference Malta 2025. It promises to be a superb event.  We ask you to save the date for 6th-10th April 2025 and we invite you to join us for this prestigious biennial event in the international legal calendar. Hosted by the Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre in St Julian’s Bay and supported by the Malta Tourism Authority, we look forward to welcoming old and new faces alike. The event website and registration will open in late April, with significant registration discounts for CLA members.

In this regard, for the second quarter, members of the Corporate and Commercial Committee, the ADR Committee, the YCLA and the Americas Hub in collaboration with other committees, are working on a CLA mini conference in Nassau, Bahamas from May 23- 25. Please attend this event and give it your support. Further details on the programme and how to register will be circulated within the coming weeks.

As President, I anticipate another busy year of travel, with my itinerary for the first two months of 2024 as follows:

January 13th – 15th – Kuala Lumpur

January 16th – 19th – Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo

January 20th – 22nd – Hong Kong

February 3rd – 8th – Papua New Guinea

February 26th 28th – Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo

I look forward to meeting CLA members during these travels and to making many new friends amongst the legal Commonwealth fraternity.

I thank in advance each and every member of the CLA for your support throughout this important year especially Council members, ExCo members, committee chairs, young lawyers and our super Secretariat team of Brigid, Clare and Evie.

Peter D Maynard KC

President, Commonwealth Lawyers Association