November 2001

Number 4


This Newsletter is directed at those members for whom we do not at present have an email address. Its main purpose is to let you know that in early September we launched at long last the Association web site at . The remaining members were advised by email at the time of launch. For those who have already visited the site, there will be little here that you do not already know as the rest of this Newsletter is based on the current contents of the web site,


The launch marked the completion of Stage 1 of a two stage project which was requested by the General Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in 1999. The project has been undertaken for the Association by Geoffrey Waldmeyer & Associates Ltd and generously funded by the Local Governmemnt Legal Society Trust in the United Kingdom. The initial response to the launch has been very positive. "Brilliant. Even I could navigate my way around it." was the reaction of one member !

Stage 2 will follow in due course and will not only provide an opportunity to fine tune the first stage but also to establish member only pages to which access will be controlled by the use of passwords. These pages will provide members with the oipportunity to post papers on which they would like comments or which they feel would be of some interest to other members and a more general page where members can post questions to which they need answers and to which other members may be able to respond.

It is the present intention to update the site at the beginning of each month even if there is not much new information to include at that time. Many of us have sites at which we ought to look from time to time but we never get around to doing so. If you are in this position, try and log on during the first week of each month when you will see what if any additions have been made. For your convenience the date of the latest update will always be found at the head of the Secretary's Bulletin Board and the update which follows will also draw attention to any new material elsewhere on the site. Material that is replaced on updating will, when appropriate (eg. earlier newsletters, minutes etc.), be archived but will be available through the site to those that need to refer to it.

Priority since the last Newsletter in October 2000 and more particularly recently has had to be given to the development and launch of this site. The preparation of a further newsletter has therefore just had to wait till now. There still needs to be further development of the Links page. Suggestions or requests for the inclusion of a link on this page are invited.

We hope that you will find the site clear and easy to use. It is of course your site and for the most part will only be as interesting and useful as you make it. Contributions for the site will always be welcome as will your comments on the site as it is now and any suggestions for its future development.


It would be great to report that there had been more responses following the launch of the site than we could reasonably cope with but that has not yet been the case. However the site was visited during the first two months by users from a diverse range of countries most of which are not in the Commonwealth! The United Kingdom scored the most hits in September with New York and Australia in the lead in October.

However, we do now at least have our first entries for the Government Legal Services section, both from Australia. These will be put on the site just as soon as it has been modified to allow for sub-national groups to be included. Maybe, as a result of the meeting of Senior Officials of the Commonwealth Law Ministries held in London this month, this section will start to grow. We had the opportunity to promote the Association and try to generate amongst those present interest in our new site and a desire to be involved. We can now but wait and see.


The decision of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association in June 2000 to switch the 14th Commonwealth Law Conference from Harare to Melbourne meant that it was necessary to find a new Chairman, if the Association's established practice of seeking a Chairman from within the host country of the next Conference was to be followed. The dates for that Conference have recently been confirmed as 13-17 April 2003.

I am happy to inform you that James Syme, the Victorian Government Solicitor, has agreed to accept office as Chairman of CAPSL for the period up to and including the end of the Melbourne Conference. His appointment has been agreed by the President of the CLA under Clause 5 of the Association's Constitution. James was recently appointed to his post as Government Solicitor after over 35 years experience in the private sector, principally with Corrs Chambers and Westgarth, a large commercial law firm in Melbourne. In his new post his practice is essentially a civil one acting for the Government of the State of Victoria and thus the post is analogous to that of Crown Solictor or Treasury Solicitor in other jurisdictions.


" I am indeed honoured to have been invited to become the Association's Chairman", said James following confirmation of his appointment. " Being new to the public sector as well as to the Association, I have no great depth of knowledge about CAPSL but I have been well briefed by the Secretary, Christopher Robinson, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on my visit to London in July when we discussed the Association and the Melbourne Conference."

"Whilst in London I also met Juliet Wheldon, the UK Treasuty Solicitor, and her senior colleagues and was struck by the similarity of our respective practices and the common issues facing us. I consider the opportunity to share experiences and develop contacts, such as will be provided by the Melbourne Conference, is of great value to all public sector lawyers and the governments they advise. I hope I shall see many of you in Melbourne in April 2003. April is mid-autumn in Melbourne and the weather should be stable and mild. In other words it should be a delightful time to visit the city. So I suggest you make a note of the date in your diary now."


James is working with the organisers of the Melbourne Conference to ensure that we get a good position within the conference programme. He is already working with his public sector colleagues in Australia and elsewhere to develop a programme of particular interest and value to all Commonwealth public sector lawyers. Details will be announced in due course. In the meantime James would welcome any ideas as to particular topics that should be covered or speakers that might be willing to contribute. You can contact him at


ABA Public Law Office Management Conferences

The next Conference in this series will be held on 12/13 Aptil 2002 at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel at San Antonio in Texas. Attendance is limited but if anyone is interested in attending, see their web site at for further details.

Lawyers and Government: Managing Change

This two week study programme is designed primarily for lawyers and senior public administrators with responsibility for the provision of government legal services already working at middle to senior level. The third in this series, which is run by Public Administration International in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, will be held in London on 11-22 March 2002.

The principle aims of the programme are to increase understanding of how UK government legal services and practice are responding to the challenge of change; to enable the sharing of experience between goverment lawyers from different political systems and explore models for change; to increase awareness and understanding of how international and global issues are affecting the work of government lawyers; and to contribute to the professional development of government lawyers. The pogramme comprises briefings, plenary sessions, case studies and appropriate visits to key practitioners. It is designed flexibly so that it can be adjusted to meet the specific needs of participants and their organisations.

The 2001 programme was well supported and so early enquiries about the 2002 programme would be wise if you are not to be disappointed. Futher information can be found at or can be sought from Claire Cameron, the Director of PAI, by email to .


The CLA welcomes Christine Amoh, who has taken over from George Okello as General Secretary; and also Graeme Mew, who has taken over from Kathleen Keating as Editor of Clarion. Graeme would be pleased to receive any items of potential interest to CLA members by email to (CLA Clarion Vol 3 No 2 August 2001)


A Commonwealth Expert Working Group met in London in January 2001 to discuss the modernisation of the law of evidence. The Group considered and made recommendations for model legislation which could serve as a guide for individual Commonwealth countries in drafting their legislation. The experts lokked at seven specific areas: business and banking documentation; the law of evidence relating to information technology; foreign evidence; video or satellite evidence in relation to persons outside the country; vulnerable witnesses; corroboration; and the use of DNA evidence. (Commonwealth News; also CLA Clarion Vol 3 No1 March 2001)


The Commonwealth Local Government Forum, in its submission to the Commonwealth High Level Review Group, who are considering the role of the Commonwealth and advising on how best it can respond to the challenges of the 21st century, has called on the Heads of Government to put local government at the heart of democratic systems. (Commonwealth News)


An article by Thomas Samoluk on "Dealing with the Realities" with detailed guidance on developing a media policy and plan and on being prepared to manage a crisis. (ABA the Public Lawyer Vol 9 No 2 Summer 2001)


A brief report on a Conference in April 2001 on "Governance in the 21st Century" organised by the Commonwealth Association for Public Sector Management (CAPAM) and the School of Public Policy of the University of Birmingham in England addressed by Winston Cox, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General in charge of development cooperation. (Commonwealth News)


A personal view by Stephen Neill. The article concludes: "The current policy climate requires that we risk manage our client outputs with our well-honed repertoire of skills. This means early intervention in putting their processes to proof." (NSW Government Lawyer Vol 21 Feb-Apr 2001)

27 Nov 2001