High-profile lawyers to deliver addresses at Commonwealth Law Conference

November 1st, 2012

By Barbara Whittle

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr Navi Pillay, and Kenyan Chief Justice Willy Mutunga have agreed to deliver keynote addresses at the Commonwealth Law Conference (CLC2013) to be held in Cape Town in April 2013.

The CLC2013 is being hosted by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Law Society of South Africa. It will bring together approximately one thousand judges and legal practitioners from 54 Commonwealth countries and beyond. This is the first time this prestigious international conference will be held in southern Africa in the 60-year history of Commonwealth law conferences.

Dr Pillay formerly practised as an attorney in Durban and was appointed as an acting High Court judge in KwaZulu-Natal in 1995, the same year she was appointed as a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years. In 2003 she was appointed as a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where she remained until her appointment as High Commissioner in August 2008 (see 2012 (Oct) DR 17).

Dr Mutunga, a committed activist lawyer in the pro-democracy movement in Kenya since the 1970s, worked in a number of prominent human rights organisations. This made him a target of President Moi’s Kenyan African National Union party and he was imprisoned from 1982 to 1983. He has since spoken out on behalf of political prisoners. Dr Mutunga was chairperson of the Law Society of Kenya from 1993 to 1995 and is the author of a number of articles on the rights of detainees, as well as on the role of non-governmental organisations and civil society in democratisation, the constitutional rights of Kenya’s nomad pastoralists and the rights of tenants.

A conference programme for all

Dr Pillay and Justice Mutunga are two of a number of high-profile speakers that have been invited to deliver keynote addresses at the conference, which features one main opening keynote address after the opening ceremony, as well as keynote plenaries on each of the following three days. The plenary sessions are followed by a choice of four steams with topics covering –

  • commercial law;
  • the legal and judicial professions;
  • constitutionalism, human rights and the rule of law; and
  • contemporary legal topics.

The full programme can be accessed on the conference website (www.commonwealthlaw2013.org) and has been put together by the conference Papers Committee chaired by Professor Bonita Meyersfeld from the University of the Witwatersrand and which includes former Constitutional Court Justice Kate O’ Regan; attorneys Busani Mabunda and Max Boqwana; advocate Gilbert Marcus; Professors David McQuoid-Mason and Nqosa Mahao, with input from the executive committee of the CLA and Local Organising Committee chairperson, Mohamed Husain.

Panels will include speakers from across the Commonwealth jurisdictions and a number of the sessions will be run as Q & A panels to maximise interaction with delegates. Among the 48 sessions are the following:

  • Anti-bribery and corruption in the corporate world.
  • Cross-border insolvencies: A test for transnational legal cooperation.
  • New frontiers of competition law: Role of non-competition considerations in adjudication of mergers and takeovers.
  • Privatising the courts: Alternative dispute resolution.
  • Junior lawyers: Business as usual – an inconvenient truth.
  • Government lawyers exposed.
  • Separation of powers: Constitutional and media perspectives.
  • Managing modern law firms: Ensuring transparency and accountability.
  • LGBT: Decriminalisation and the role of lawyers.
  • Pitcairn Island – mutiny on the bounty: Violence against women as a cultural norm.
  • Playing fair? Sports law in the Commonwealth.
  • Information, secrecy and Wikileaks.
  • Forced marriages: What should the legal response be?
  • Defamation law reform: Thresholds, defences and the value of free speech.
  • Cyber security in the Commonwealth and IT challenges for law firms.

Registration is open on the conference website and special accommodation rates have been negotiated with a number of hotels in walking distance of the Cape Town International Convention Centre, where the conference will take place.

  • For more information, consult the conference website at commonwealthlaw2013.org

Compiled by Barbara Whittle, communication manager, Law Society of South Africa, barbara@lssa.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2012 (Nov) DR 21.