Commonwealth lawyers to consider effects of globalisation at 20th conference

Alexander Ward, president of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association
Alexander Ward, president of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association

Lawyers from across the Commonwealth will come together this March to discuss legal issues in a globalised world at the Commonwealth Lawyers Association’s (CLA) 20th biennial conference.

The conference moves from Glasgow, Scotland - hosts of the 2015 conference - to Melbourne, Australia from 20-24 March 2017, and will be held on the theme “Thriving in a global world: building on the rule of law”.

The CLA, based in London, comprises lawyers and legal associations from across the 53 Commonwealth countries, including some of the largest jurisdictions in the world.

Speaking to Irish Legal News today, Alexander Ward, president of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, explained: “All are united by the origin of the common law and English statutes introduced often with colonisation, which laws have been modified over the years to suit the local conditions.”

Since 1986, the CLA has sought to uphold the rule of law by encouraging exchanges between members of the profession, through projects, conferences, workshops and improvements in legal education.

Mr Ward said: “The current priorities of the CLA are rule of law issues and thus human rights. These are diverse. It might be issues of governments in certain jurisdictions using law to restrict freedom of speech or association or criticism of the government. It can be issues such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality where laws introduced by the colonising authorities two centuries ago are still applied in some countries long after being repealed in the UK.

“More recently, we have been concerned by direct attacks on lawyers often simply acting in their role as advisers to clients, and thus being seen as a threat or somehow associated with the principal offence with which the client has been charged.

“Matters covered by the CLA are as wide as the Commonwealth itself. Cybercrime, the death penalty, torture, judicial independence, blasphemy and money laundering illustrate the range of issues upon which our resources are directed.

“The CLA intervenes in hearings across the world that raise human rights issues. Most recently in action to decriminalise homosexuality in Beleize, and in proceedings currently before the US Supreme Court on the issue of torture.”

Appealing to lawyers from across the Commonwealth to attend the CLA’s 2017 conference, Mr Ward said: “Melbourne is a very exciting city and the Law Institute of Victoria is a very energetic and enthusiastic organisation, acting as the co-host.”

More information is available from the conference website.

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