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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 or so, 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.

Applications for membership of CALRAs are very welcome.

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