CLA News / Tribute to Hamish Adamson OBE, First Executive Secretary of the CLA


Hamish Adamson OBE, the CLA’s first Executive Secretary died at his home in London on 22nd October 2022 aged 87.

Hamish Adamson was born in Perth in Scotland, educated at Stoneyhouse College, Lancashire, obtained an MA at Lincoln College Oxford and qualified as an English solicitor practising in London. In the early 1980’s he became International Director at the Law Society of England and Wales and in 1986, the CLA’s first Executive Secretary.

At the Commonwealth Law Conference in Hong Kong in 1983, John Bowron, then Secretary of the Law Society of England and Wales, offered the services of the Law Society to act as secretariat for the newly formed CLA. He returned to the offices in Chancery Lane and informed Hamish that he had put him forward as its Executive Secretary in addition to his duties as the Society’s International Director. Hamish’s position was confirmed at the Ocho Rios Conference in 1986 and with the assistance of Dr Karen Brewer then the Law Society’s International Relations Officer and now Secretary General of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association he provided for the CLA ‘s administration until his retirement in 1985. His skill in establishing the CLA’s secretariat was fundamental to the success of its early years and included hosting the CLA’s council meetings at the Law Society’s premises in Chancery Lane and cooperating with local organisers of the CLCs in New Zealand (1990), Cyprus (1993) and until he retired, the CLC in Vancouver (1996). In addition to his work for the Law Society and the CLA, Hamish was closely involved in the setting up of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative with Richard Bourne. He was author of a book on the free movement of lawyers, and the first Academic Director of the Franco British Lawyers. In 1995 he was justifiably awarded the OBE in recognition of his contribution to the legal profession.

Hamish never lost his keen interest in the CLA and met annually at the Royal Overseas Club with his former colleagues. He was due to meet them again at the time of his death.