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Commonwealth Legal Events Update

This is from our Hub Co-ordinator and past president, Santhaan. The success of anything we do is dependent on everyone playing a part in raising the CLA profile. Our thanks to Santhaan for this piece of work which we hope will help co-ordinate our CLA presence in as many places as possible. Please let us know if you have attended or will be at any of these events and would like to write a piece for a newsletter.

Dear Colleagues,


After an excellent Commonwealth Law Conference in Livingstone during April 2019, it occurred to me to share with you what was happening in May, June and July and what is in store for us in August, September, October and November this year. Through these events and platforms, CLA gets introduced and would be helpful in raising its profile.

17th May: I flew from Delhi to Toronto. The aim of my visit was to visit the Supreme Court of Canada and also to get connected with the regulatory body of the Lawyers in Canada.

20th May: I reach Ottawa along with my host Manjeet Singh, a Senior Lawyer from Supreme Court of India. As it was Queen Victoria’s 200th Birthday, it was a public holiday and therefore it was a festive atmosphere in Ottawa. We witnessed a 21 Gun Salute just adjacent to the Parliament buildings.

Thanks to Laurie Pawlitza for the introductory letter to Jonathan, the CEO of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, which together with correspondence with the CEO and others paved the way to our visit to Supreme Court.

22nd May: In the morning at the appointed time, we meet the Registrar, Roger Bilodeau of the Supreme Court of Canada. After a brief interaction, he took us to Justice Malcolm Rowe and we were introduced to him. He opened the conversation by asking me to tell him about the Commonwealth Lawyers Association. At the end I invited him to our next CLC in the Bahamas. He expressed his intention to attend the Conference.

In Canada, they have Nine Judges like in US Supreme Court. All of them sit together to adjudicate on cases which they select, to be heard and decided.

The Registrar assigned a young intern to take us around the Supreme Court. Besides the Court, we saw their meeting rooms, Library and other facilities before taking leave for our next destination.

We took a 15-minute walk to O’Connor Street, where the Federation of Law Societies of Canada is located. Both the President and the CEO Jonathan were out of the country. We meet Deborah Wolfe, the Executive Director. We learnt from her that they are a Federation of 14 Institutions spread across Canada. There are Law Societies in 10 provinces and 3 territories. And they have a Notaries Institution in Quebec. They evinced interest in our next Conference in the Bahamas.

During our interactions, we learnt that all the provincial Law Societies in Canada are the Regulatory Bodies of the legal profession and thereby represent the public interest. Whereas the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is a body that represents the interests of the Lawyers across Canada.


4th June: I flew to Belfast from London, to be with Brian for the Symposium on Mediation hosted at the Law Society of Northern Ireland. I formally welcomed everyone to the Symposium. The Chief Justice Rt Hon Sir Declan Morgan spoke at the beginning and gave his remarks on the subject. Brian formally introduced the topic along with his remarks. Gary Adair, Solicitor also spoke.


The main Speaker was Justice Vasheist Kokaram from the Supreme Court of Trinidad & Tobago. He built his speech on the basis of Moraldo’s case in Trinidad which is pending consideration at the Appellate Stage. In the audience there were more than 40 persons from the legal profession and from the field of Sports.

At the initiative of Brian, this is the first In Country event of CLA that made money for the coffers of our Association. Probably many more such in country events should be encouraged.

After the event we also had a glimpse of the Court premises and met Justice Huddleston in his Chambers.

After returning to London I had an occasion to visit the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Laurie Watt was kind enough to write an introductory letter to Lord Carnwath, that Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Judge, Supreme Court of India, who was in London at the time would be interested in visiting him. It was the second week of June when I along Justice L. Nageswara Rao called on Lord Carnwath at the Supreme Court of U.K. It was a good interaction, where Lord Carnwath was highly appreciative of CLA’s activities and recalled his recent visit to Livingstone to participate in the Commonwealth Law Conference. Justice Rao recalled his association with CLA over the years and about the CLC in Hyderabad. We were taken around various Court Halls where the Supreme Court sits and also the Court Hall where the Privy Council sits. We also saw the flags of various Commonwealth Jurisdictions in a display, where its jurisdiction extends. Alongside we were also shown various facilities in the Supreme Court located in the vicinity of Westminster.

6th to 8th June: The Bar Leaders from across the Caribbean Islands assembled in Miami (US) for their meetings. I was there on their invitation, as an observer. The formal meetings took place at the Justice Room, Faculty of Law of the Florida International University (FIU).

7th June: The two-day event began with the Council Meeting of the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) Bar Association. This was presided over by their President, Thaddeus Antoine. The OECS is Federal Bar Association of the Nine tiny Islands in the Eastern Caribbean.After lunch it was the Council Meeting of OCCBA (Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Association). This is the umbrella organisation of all the Caribbean Commonwealth Countries of which there are about 15 in number. This meeting was conducted by their President, Ruggles Ferguson.

Later in the afternoon after Tea Break, it was the Meeting of the CLA’s Regional Hub of Americas. This was conducted by Peter Maynard as the Head of Regional Hub and Vice-President, CLA (America). I briefly spoke about the concept of Regional Hub. Bertha Cooper, our Council Member, also chipped in by sharing her thoughts. Peter gave a power point presentation telling everyone about CLA and its activities. Peter also elicited opinions from everyone present about their interests and about the way forward regarding benefits of becoming a member of CLA.

In the evening a Reception was hosted by the Caribbean and Miami Bar Association along with the Students of FIU.

8th June: at the same premises in FIU Faculty of Law, the following was the schedule for their Continuing Legal Education.

OCCBA Continuing Legal Education (CLE) 2019 – “Opportunities and challenges for the Commonwealth Caribbean Legal Profession in the Digital Age”

  • Keynote Speaker Justice Adrian Saunders, President, Caribbean Court of Justice.
  • The Caribbean, the Commonwealth and the Rule of Law – R. Santhaankrishnan, Immediate Past President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA).
  • Judicial Accountability – Douglas Mendes, SC President, Law Association of Trinidad & Tobago.
  • Social Media and Professional Misconduct – Donovan C. Walker, Vice-President, OCCBA and Justine A. Collins, Member of the Jamaica Bar Association.
  • Protecting Private Information in the Commonwealth Caribbean – Andre Sheckleford, UWI, Jamaica.
  • Introducing OCCBA’s Online Journal – Gabrielle Warren, Editor. OCCBA Online Journal was formally launched.

Later in the afternoon it was Awards of Excellence presented to the following two eminent persons closely connected to the Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Association (OCCBA).

    1. Justice Desiree Patricia Bernard, OR, CCH.,
    2. Dr Lloyd Barnett, O.J.,

These awards were presented to them in recognition their outstanding contributions to the development of Commonwealth Caribbean Law and Jurisprudence.

It is worth recalling and sharing with you the response of Dr Lloyd Barnett. Besides other things, he explained the role played by OCCBA in creating institutions such at the Caribbean Court of Justice in the Caribbean and the Commonwealth Lawyers Association in the wider Commonwealth. He referred to the Commonwealth Law Conference in Jamaica in 1986 which gave birth to CLA, when a Jamaican became CLA’s President.

The two-day event came to an end with the Closing remarks from the President, OCCBA.

There was the Annual Conference of Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) from 17th to 20th July. This was held in Lome, Togo, West Africa. As per my knowledge and understanding, nobody from CLA was there at this Conference. This Association spans about 54 jurisdictions across the African Continent.

6th & 7th August: In Singapore there was the Singapore Convention on Mediation. The Prime Minister of Singapore and a Representative from United Nations and host of other countries formerly signed the declaration.

This Convention would pave way for enforcement of Mediation settlements made across the borders. This event is pursuant to a formal Resolution at the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018. This is akin to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
I do not think anybody from CLA attended this event. About 700 delegates from across the world were invited to this event.
8th to 11th August: 20th Annual SADC Lawyers’ Association Conference and General Meeting. Venue: Elephant Hills Resort Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. This is on the other side of the Zambesi from Livingstone.


Attendance: Linda Kasonde, Head of the Regional Hub and Vice President CLA, Africa, will be in attendance. She is also presenting a Paper. Hopefully our Council Members from South Africa & Namibia are attending.

May I request Linda to have at least an informal meeting of the representatives of all the Southern African countries and get them familiarised with CLA and its activities. There are about 11 Commonwealth Countries in the Southern African Region. They are South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia, Mauritius, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Linda could share with us a Report after the Conference.

14th to 18th August: Annual Conference of the Law Society of Kenya.

Venue: Pride Inn, Paradise Beach Resort, Mombasa County, Kenya.

Main Theme: “AN AUDIT OF THE CONSTITUTION: The Quest for Constitutional Reform and Transformation”

Sub Theme: “Embracing Technology in Legal Practice, Litigation and Commercial Practice”

Chief Guest: BRIAN SPEERS, President, Commonwealth Lawyers Association. He would be formally Opening the Conference.

Besides the President, the most active participant will be our own Council Member Maria Mbeneka from Kenya. They should attract guests from other jurisdictions. Maria could share that information with us after the Conference. She could also share with us a Report after the Conference.

23rd to 29th August: Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)
Venue: Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.


Attendance: We do not have either a Council Member or an ExCo Member from Nigeria. Hopefully Justin Amenuvor, our Council Member from Ghana will be attending. Normally they have delegates from the neighbouring West African Jurisdictions. Hopefully they will have delegates from Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Cameroon. If so, Justin could take the lead and could at least have an informal meeting with all the representatives from thethese jurisdictions. Justin can probably coordinate with our previous ExCo Member Mia Essein, Nigeria.

6th & 7th September: Fiji Law Society/International Bar Association Convention 2019. Place: Sheraton, Suva, Fiji.


Attendance: Steven Thiru, Vice-President, Australasia, CLA. He will be representing CLA and presenting a Paper.

Alongside this event, the South Pacific, Lawyers Association will also be meeting. Most of them are Commonwealth Countries. Steven will be exploring the possibility of organising a meeting of the Representatives of all the Commonwealth Jurisdictions, introducing them to CLA and share with them our activities.

1st week of September: A week-long Symposium on ‘Economic Crimes’ at Cambridge University. Lawyers and Academics from across the Globe will be attending. CLA’s Life President, Colin Nicholls QC will be speaking on the first day and I will be there along with another Senior Lawyer from the Supreme Court of India, Mr. Jaideep Gupta, who is an active participant at all our CLCs.

10th September: I would be going to the Isle of Man on an Invitation from the Law Society of Isle of Man. They have constituted an annual lecture in memory of a lawyer. At their invitation, I will be present to deliver this year’s Memorial Lecture. I will be speaking on ‘Commonwealth and the Rule of Law’.

12th & 13th September: Meeting of the CLA’s Regional Hub of Europe in Belfast.

Brian Speers is hosting the event in Belfast. Representatives of most of the Commonwealth jurisdictions in Europe are expected to attend this event, including the Secretary General and Officers and members of the CLA.

13th to 15th September: 16th Regional Law Conference of the OECS Bar Association (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States). Venue: St. James Club & Villas, Antigua.


Attendance: Peter Maynard, CLA’s Vice-President, Americas. He will also be organising the meeting of the Regional Hub on 14th afternoon. Hopefully our council member Bertha Cooper will also be there.

Normally representatives of all the OECS Jurisdictions should be attending and few others from other Caribbean Jurisdictions.

The CEO of Law Society of Cyprus Ms. Koulia Wakis earlier informed me that she is hosting an event in Cyprus by inviting the CEOs of all the Law Societies from across the Commonwealth Jurisdictions in Europe. I will have to check and come back to you as to whether this programme is on.

29th and 30th October: OCCBA Summit would be held in Port of Spain.
On this occasion the Law Association of Trinidad & Tobago will be hosting a Dinner on 30th evening. Bar leaders and others from across various Commonwealth Caribbean Jurisdictions will be meeting for two days.

I believe Peter Maynard is planning to be present at the Summit, as also Bertha Cooper to interact with one and all and to raise the profile of CLA.

4th to 9th November: 24th East Africa Law Society Annual Conference and General Meeting. (EALS) Venue: Kigali Serena, Kigali-Rwanda. Rwanda Bar Association is the host Association.



  1. Role of Legal Profession in the 4th Industrial Revolution.
  2. Promise of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
  3. Rule of Law and Development in the East African Community.

Attendance: Our Council Member Richard Mugisha is stationed in Kigali and therefore I believe he will be an active participant and probably involved in organising the event as the Immediate Past President of EALS. I also believe Maria Mbeneka, our Council Member from Kenya should also be there.

The CEO, EALS has invited and informed me that he would be happy to host the Commonwealth Round Table (for our purpose this would be our Meeting of the Regional Hub).

I will be requesting Linda to take the lead and make it convenient to attend and also taking cue from the CEO, to get the meeting of Regional Hub organised. Coming from Kigali, Richard Mughisa should also be forthcoming. During their last conference, Richard Mughisa (the then President) and the CEO Hanningtone Amol were proactive in getting the meeting organised. About my coming over there, let me take a call at a later date.

From East Africa Region the legal fraternity from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan etc., attend this Annual Conference.

5th to 8th November: 32nd LawAsia Conference. This is the flagship event of the Bar Associations of Asia-Pacific.

Place: This will be held in Hongkong and is being hosted by the Law Society of Hongkong.


Attendance: The Law Society of Hongkong is the Host Association. Our council member Melissa Pang is the President of the Law Society of Hongkong and will be actively present there as the host.

Steven Thiru, CLA’s Vice President, Australasia. I am expecting K.T.S Tulsi, our Council Member from India and Brian Speers President, CLA to be there for the Conference and presenting Papers.

During the same time Steven Thiru is gearing up to host the meeting of CLA’s Australasia Hub at the University of Hongkong.

Around 11th November: Steven is hosting an event at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to get the Report on ‘Child Not Brides’ formally released at a function. Brian should be attending this event.

13th November: The CLA in Association with the Law Society of Singapore is hosting a one-day Symposium on Mediation in Singapore. Steven is taking the lead and Brian is planning to be there to take to initiative and take part in the discussions. This is being hosted in pursuance to the Singapore Declaration on Mediation. I am expecting to take a good delegation of Lawyers to this event and that should include the President & Vice President of the Supreme Court Bar Association.

14th to 17th November: The Annual Conference of JAMBAR. The Jamaican Bar Association Continuing Legal Education Weekend Conference 2019.

Place: Hilton Rose Hall & Spa, Montego Bay, Jamaica.


Attendance: I do not know whether Peter Maynard or Bertha Cooper are planning to attend this event.

Canada: Subject to confirmation, Laurie Pawlitza, Trudi Pye and Lori Stoltz are looking to host a Hub event in Toronto, Canada.

These are some of the developments within my knowledge. And hence I am able to share with you all. Others could chip in with any further information. One could also chip in to say who is attending which of these events. That would facilitate introduction and to raise the profile of CLA.

I would also be circulating through WhatsApp some pictures along with brief descriptions for your information.