Commonwealth Association of Law Reform Agencies


Background, history and support

Well over 2 billion people live in the Commonwealth. That is more than a quarter of the population of the world. There is always a real need for their law to be fair, modern, simple and cost-effective, in every country in and beyond the Commonwealth.

Reform of the law is vital. It is also increasingly recognised that reform of the law needs to be principled, to be based on sound methods, and to take account of the views of experts and of civil society. Law reform typically aims to sustain the rule of law, to improve protection for the vulnerable and to increase human rights. It needs to be respected, rigorous and responsive.

Much law reform is conducted by law reformers within government. However, more and more countries and states have established law reform agencies (LRAs) over the last 50 years, because of their benefits. There are now over 60 permanent LRAs, mainly in the Commonwealth – ranging from large to very small agencies – with names such as Law Reform Commission and Law Reform Institute. National LRAs exist in over half of all Commonwealth countries.

The Commonwealth Association of Law Reform Agencies (CALRAs) was established in 2003/04, to encourage, facilitate and take forward cooperative initiatives in law reform – so as to improve the law and society across the world. It is committed to the Commonwealth’s values, and received formal Accreditation to the Commonwealth in 2005. CALRAs provides capacity-building in law reform, for law reformers in government and for those working in LRAs. CALRAs supports good practice for high quality law reform. Its work can be especially valuable for small states. Its facilities are also available beyond the Commonwealth.

Aims and objectives

CALRAs has a broad set of aims and objectives in its founding constitution. The following are some of the main activities undertaken:-

  1. Providing training in law reform;
  2. Engaging with the Commonwealth and with governments to seek high quality law reform geared to the specific country;
  3. Organising international conferences on law reform;
  4. Writing a guide to good practice in law reform – which is currently being drafted, as a joint production with the Commonwealth Secretariat;
  5. Undertaking other law reform activities, such as giving advice and assistance, and conducting reviews of existing law reform machinery; and
  6. Maintaining strong relationships with relevant organisations, including the members of the Commonwealth Legal Forum, a group of Commonwealth legal associations.

Executive Committee

The members of the Executive Committee are:-

  • The Hon Philip Cummins, AM, Chair, Victorian Law Reform Commission (President of CALRAs)
  • Gertrude Lynn Hiwa , SC, the Law Commissioner, Malawi Law Commission (Vice-President of CALRAs)
  • Michael Sayers, former Chief Executive, Law Commission of England and Wales (Hon General Secretary of CALRAs)
  • Professor Peter Lown QC, former Director, Alberta Law Reform Institute, Canada (Hon Treasurer of CALRAs)
  • Kathleen Cunningham, Executive Director, British Columbia Law Institute, Canada
  • P Rosario Domingue, Chief Executive Officer, Law Reform Commission of Mauritius
  • Malcolm McMillan, Chief Executive, Scottish Law Commission
  • Tousy Namiseb, the former Secretary, Namibian Law Reform and Development Commission
  • The Hon Alisia Numia TV Taumoepeau, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Tonga

Current Members

The following law reform agencies are formal members of CALRAs:-

  • Alberta Law Reform Institute, Canada
  • British Columbia Law Institute, Canada
  • England and Wales Law Commission
  • Jersey Law Commission
  • Lesotho Law Reform Commission
  • Malawi Law Commission
  • Manitoba Law Reform Commission, Canada
  • Mauritius Law Reform Commission
  • Namibia Law Reform and Development Commission
  • New Zealand Law Commission
  • Nigeria Law Reform Commission
  • Scottish Law Commission
  • South African Law Reform Commission
  • Tanzania Law Reform Commission
  • Trinidad and Tobago Law Reform Commission
  • Uganda Law Reform Commission
  • Vanuatu Law Commission
  • Victorian Law Reform Commission, Australia

There are several other law reform agencies/bodies that are active in CALRAs affairs but do not have formal membership. There are also several individual memberships, including from Bahamas, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Germany, Ghana and Tonga.


CALRAs arranges international conferences on law reform, in alternate years and in partnership with the national LRA in the jurisdiction. There have been five, from 2005 to 2015.


You are invited to an International Conference on Law Reform

Effective Law Reform

Sharing Together across the World

The next CALRAs Conference will be in March 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The Conference is being arranged with the kind assistance of the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC). The Conference will run from Friday 24th (early afternoon) to Saturday 25th March (late afternoon, following the CALRAs General Meeting), at the VLRC, Level 3, 333 Queen Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000.

All interested in law reform are very welcome to attend. The Conference is equally open to members of CALRAs, and to non-members, and from the Commonwealth and elsewhere. There will be no registration fee for attending the CALRAs Conference.

The Conference topics include: key characteristics of good law reform, law reform in the United States of America, victims of crime, relations between Law Reform Agencies and the Executive and the Legislature, harmonisation of laws in the United States of America, and a written guide to good practice in law reform.

Speakers confirmed to date include:-

  • Professor Rosalind Croucher, AM, President of the Australian Law Reform Commission
  • Professor Robert Stein, Chair of the International Legal Development Committee of the Uniform Law Commission of the USA
  • Mrs Gertrude Lynn Hiwa, SC, Law Commissioner, Malawi Law Commission
  • Hon Philip Cummins, AM, Chair of the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

The CALRAs Conference will be held immediately after the Commonwealth Law Conference (CLC), an entirely separate, large and prestigious international event ( Their website includes information about some of the hotel accommodation which may also suit those attending the CALRAs Conference ( The CLC is taking place from Monday 20th to midday on Friday 24th March.

If you will be attending the CALRAs Conference, please register by 31st January and, at the latest, by 5th March, using the attached form. If you would like any further information about the Conference at any time, please contact Michael Sayers ( or Lindy Smith ( or see the VLRC website ( Attendees are responsible for their own accommodation and travel arrangements and expenses.

We look forward to seeing you in Melbourne, a major, vibrant and multicultural city, with strong cultural and sporting traditions.



CALRAs is involved in a number of study/training courses, in particular about good practice in law reform. Some are in-country, specially tailored to the participants. Some are regional. There has also been a separate international study workshop in London for senior law reformers each year since 2008. The next is on 2nd to 6th October 2017 (