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Our aims and objectives are:

  • to advance the administration of the law by promoting the independence of the judiciary;
  • to advance education in the law, the administration of justice, the treatment of offenders and the prevention of crime within the Commonwealth;
    [The Rule of Law can only be observed if there is a strong and independent judiciary which is sufficiently equipped and prepared to apply such laws. Victoria Falls Proclamation, 1994]
  • to disseminate information and literature on all matters of interest concerning the legal process within the various countries comprising the Commonwealth;

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The Association was founded in 1970 as the Commonwealth Magistrates' Association and the current name was adopted in 1988. The Association is registered as a charitable organisation in the United Kingdom. It is a Company Limited by Guarantee and not having a Share Capital.

The Association has a staff of two:
Secretary General
Executive and Admin Officer

The Association is governed by a General Assembly of its Members which meets not less frequently than every fourth year.

It has been the normal practice of the Association for the General Assembly of Members to be held during the week of the Triennial Conference. There is an elected Council upon which sit three representatives from each of six regions:

East, Central and Southern Africa
West Africa
Indian Ocean
Atlantic and Mediterranean
Pacific Ocean
plus the President, the Executive Vice-President, the Treasurer.

The Council also includes Life Vice Presidents and the Immediate Past President. The Council meets at least once a year. (See CMJA Constitution).

The CMJA also has a Director of Programmes, a full time judge, who provides voluntary assistance to organise the CMJA's educational programme. Our current Director of Programmes is District Judge Shamim Qureshi (England and Wales).

The CMJA also has an Executive Committee which meet four times a year.

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Recent Achievements

  • In July 2017, the Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles Toolkit was launced by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Drafted by Dr Karen Brewr, Hon. Keith Hollis, Prof. Dr Peter Slinn with the assistance of representatives from the CLA, CLEA, CPA and CMJA, the organisations who are all members of the Latimer House Working Group was commissioned
    o to put together a Dialogue Toolkit with a view to enhancing the respect
    between the three pillars of democracy (namely the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary) in the Commonwealth. The Toolkit is in two parts: A Practionners Handbook and a Facilitators Guide
  • In January 2017, the CMJA published "Guide for Magistrates in the
    Commonwealth: Fundamental Principles and Recommended Practices
    ” (available in the CMJA Membership area) providing a valuable resource for on the key concepts and principles underpinning the role
    of the judiciary as one of the pillars of democracy and the important part that the magistracy (lower judiciary) play in promoting the rule of law and good governance”
  • The CLA, CLEA and CMJA produced a report on "Judicial Appointments Commissions: A Clause for Constitutions" in May 2013 which sets out good practice for the establishment, composition and running of Judicial appointment commissions
  • The Association prodcued a report on the Status of Magistrates in February 2013 which provides a Guideline to ensuring the independence and integrity of judicial officers of limited jurisdiction.
  • The Commonwealth Principles (Latimer House) on the Three Branches of Government distilled from the Latimer House Guidelines for the Commonwealth on Parliamentary Supremacy and Judicial Indepdence, 1998 which were a result of the Joint Colloquium on Parliamentary Sovereignty and the Independence of the Judiciary (a co-operative venture with the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association) and the continued work in promoting the Principles throughout the Commonwealth in particular the Edinburgh Plan of Action for the Implementation and Development of the Commonwealth Latimer House Principles.

  • The CMJA has been the repository of the Codes of Conduct/Ethics of judiciaries around the Commonwealth since 1998. Fighting Corruption in the Judiciary is a priority area and the Association has been promoting the Limassol Conclusions agreed in 2002.

  • The re-launch of the Judicial Education Programme under the auspices of a Director of Studies in 1999; The CMJA has organised training courses, seminars, workshops and Conferences to assist in the development and maintenance of good standards in the judiciary, human rights, judicial independence and the fight against corruption.

  • The establishment of CMJA's Gender Section and the subsequent involvement of the Association in four Regional Judicial Colloquia on Women's Rights in conjunction with the Gender and Youth Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, held in Zimbabwe (1994), the UN Women's Conference in Beijing (1995), Hong Kong (1996) and Guyana (1996); and the Gender Section conferences held in St Lucia (1999), the Bahamas (2000) and Barbados (2001); London (2002) and Bermuda (2008).

  • The contribution to the April 1996 Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting which established a new Ministerial Working Group on the Independence of the Judiciary in the Commonwealth and to the subsequent Commonwealth Law Ministers Meetings and the continued liaison with the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat.

  • The Victoria Falls Proclamation 1994 approved by the General Assembly of the CMJA reaffirming the principles of the Independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law as a reaffirmation of Members' commitment to the objectives of the Association.

  • The participation, as a accredited Commonwealth Association in the activities surrounding the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in New Zealand, 1995 and Scotland, 1997, Durban 1999; Abuja 2003; Malta 2005.

  • The granting of Royal Patronage to the CMJA by Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth.


The CMJA has recognised the following persons as Hon. Life Members of the Association for their contribution to the development of the Association.

His Hon.Justice El Hadji Danladi Halilu (Nigeria) - Hon. Life Member since 2003
Mrs Sybil McLaughlin MBE. JP(Cayman Islands) - Hon. Life Member since 2003
His Hon. Justice Richard Banda (Malawi)- Hon.Life Member since 2009
His Hon.Judge Keith Hollis (England and Wales)- Hon.Life Member since 2009
Sir Anand Satayanand (New Zealand)- Hon. Life Member since 2018

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CMJA, Uganda House, 58-59 Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DX
Tel: 44 20 7976 1007 Fax: 44 20 7976 2394 Email:
Reg No (UK): 1942930 Charity Reg No (UK): 800367