CLA News / The snowball Effect: Inflation and the Role of Lawyers in Fostering Peaceful Assemblies by Ronald Serwanga



Inflation, marked by price increases and falling buying power, is a serious problem for many economies across the globe[1]. Economic stability is threatened by eroding savings and escalating living costs. At the same time, the democratic cornerstone of peaceful assembly faces increasing scrutiny. These seemingly unrelated issues intersect in the legal sphere, where lawyers mitigate inflation impacts and uphold assembly rights. The work of pro bono attorneys stands out against this context. While they struggle to protect the right to peaceful assembly—a cornerstone of democracy—they face additional difficulties due to rising prices. Their dedication guarantees that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, has equal access to justice. This piece explores the legal profession’s vital role in navigating these challenges, fostering economic and social stability.

 Inflation: A Trigger for Unrest

Inflation, a pervasive issue, impacts multiple sectors and individuals within an economy[2]. Economists are usually the focal point in comprehending and formulating strategies to handle inflation’s consequences[3]. However, the role of lawyers in this context, although less obvious, is equally significant and warrants greater attention.

Consider Nigeria, where escalating inflation has paved the way for potential consumer exploitation via unjustifiable price increases[4]. In such situations, lawyers become the frontline defenders of consumer rights. They ensure the enforcement of consumer protection laws and tirelessly advocate for victims of such exploitative practices, thereby upholding fairness and justice in marketplaces.

In countries like Ghana, where inflation rates are mercurial, long-term contractual agreements can be significantly impacted[5]. Legal practitioners assist in renegotiating these contracts, ensuring they stay pertinent to the ever-evolving economic landscape. They also represent clients in any disputes that might surface due to changes in agreement terms instigated by inflation.

Moving over to Zimbabwe, a country experiencing hyperinflation, numerous employment issues, including conflicts over wages and cost-of-living adjustments, have emerged[6]. Lawyers play a crucial role here too, providing guidance to both employers and employees. They help in establishing fair compensation agreements in line with the inflationary context and play a pivotal role in resolving any disputes that may arise.

Furthermore, lawyers collaborate closely with government entities to formulate regulations aimed at curbing inflation. They help to ensure that measures like suitable price controls, fair competition, and anti-monopoly rules are in place[7]. By doing so, they contribute significantly to stabilizing economies and ensuring a just economic landscape, even in the face of rampant inflation.

Right to Peaceful Assembly: An Outlet for Dissent

The right to peaceful assembly is a fundamental pillar in democratic societies, and it’s universally recognized across the Commonwealth African nations[8]. However, situations like the protests arising from elections[9] or the demonstrations against police brutality[10] underline the necessity for robust legal protections. In these scenarios, lawyers become indispensable players in the preservation of democratic rights.

Legal practitioners can provide vital counsel to individuals and organizations orchestrating assemblies, helping them to navigate and comply with local regulations. For instance, in some countries[11], where public gathering laws can be complex and intricate, clear legal guidance can help individuals avoid legal pitfalls and ensure smooth execution of their democratic rights.

Freedom of expression, linked with peaceful assembly, often comes under fire during protests. Lawyers robustly defend these rights against unwarranted censorship. They represent assembly participants when facing law enforcement challenges, ensuring respect for their rights and impartial dispute resolution. Lawyers, as democracy’s vanguards, help strike a balance between maintaining order and preserving the freedom to dissent.

 Advocacy and Legal Reforms

As the cost-of-living rises, so do legal fees, making it harder for people to seek justice or to know what their rights are. But even with these economic challenges, there is a bright spot: the admirable attorneys who advocate for pro bono legal aid. In times of economic unrest, these lawyers’ acts of kindness serve a critical role in promoting peaceful assemblies and defending civil rights. Having access to legal counsel that can advise on the right to peaceful protest is especially important if inflation leads to protests or public assemblies. They make sure that people’s opinions are heard without compromising legal standards by offering free legal advice and representation. They seek to guarantee that Advocacy and Legal Reforms are available to everyone, that justice is not limited to the wealthy, but is available to all people regardless of their financial standing. These attorneys provide as a ray of light in these uncertain economic times, proving that fairness and justice can prevail over growing prices.

Legal practitioners do not just operate within the confines of individual cases. They also exercise significant influence in the realm of legal reforms and policy advocacy. By actively engaging with human rights organizations, advocacy groups, and policymakers, they can help shape comprehensive and protective legal frameworks that uphold the right of peaceful assembly.

For instance, lawyers have been instrumental in molding the legal landscape that governs public gatherings in African countries. They have been active participants in the legal dialogue, striving for clearer definitions and fairer applications of laws. Their tireless advocacy ensures that these laws are not only just, but also contribute to the democratic fabric of society.

Similarly, legal practitioners have taken up the mantle of advocacy to push for legislation that aligns with international standards. Their work has been focused on bolstering the freedom of assembly and expression, critical components of a thriving democracy. By taking on such active roles in policy discussions and advocacy, these legal practitioners are ensuring that the democratic rights of the citizens are well-protected and can be exercised freely and without fear. Through their work, they exemplify the far-reaching impact lawyers can have on society, far beyond their traditional roles in courtrooms.


Lawyers play a key role in mitigating inflation effects and safeguarding peaceful assembly rights in Commonwealth African nations. They protect consumers, assist in contract negotiations amid inflation, and advocate for rights, forming social and economic stability pillars. Beyond individual representation, their engagement shapes societal reform. They influence policy discussions, advocate for justice, and strive for rule of law prevalence. By protecting individual rights during economic and political turbulence, they lay groundwork for resilient societies. Their continual efforts contribute to a more just society, underlining the legal profession’s significance in societal stability and progress.

Author: Ronald Serwanga

Designation: Member, East Africa Law Society Rule of Law Committee

Organisation/Law Firm: East African Law society (EALS)

Country: Tanzania

[1] World Bank. (2023). Global Economic Prospects, June 2023. Washington, DC: World Bank. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO

[2] Fernando, J. (2023). Inflation: What It Is, How It Can Be Controlled, and Extreme Examples. Investopedia.

[3] Inflation: Prices on the Rise. (2019, July 30). IMF.

[4] Overview. (n.d.). World Bank.

[5] Overview. (n.d.). World Bank.

[6] Mpofu, B. K. (2023, April 26). Buying banknotes to survive Zimbabwe’s sky-high inflation. BBC News.

[7] Newsletter – (n.d.).

[8] Organization of African Unity,1981, Article 11. African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (“Banjul Charter”). CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982).

[9] Kenya’s Political Violence Landscape in the Lead-Up to the 2022 Elections – Kenya. (2022, August 9). ReliefWeb.

[10] Salako, P. (2022, October 20). Two years after #EndSARS, police brutality in Nigeria goes on. Features | Al Jazeera.

[11] For example, the Republic of Uganda. (2013). Public Order Management Act.