Students Staff

04 July 2014

Essex students meeting global challenge through historic agreement with Commonwealth Students' Association

Memorandum of Understanding signing

Representatives from Bar Society, School of Law, the Students' Union and Commonwealth Students' Association at MOU signing

A groundbreaking international partnership has been forged between the University of Essex Bar Society and the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA).

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed outlining how members of the Bar Society will offer free legal advice and guidance to CSA members across the Commonwealth’s 54 countries.

Chad Blackman, President of the Bar Society, who has played a central role in establishing the partnership said: “I’m particularly excited this is happening at Essex as it is celebrating our 50th year. It shows the talent in our University and we are a global force to be reckoned with.
"Essex will hopefully be on the lips of the key decision makers in the Commonwealth in the coming years because of this initiative. I hope every student, alumni and everyone associated with Essex will feel a sense of global pride.”

Chad said Essex students will be able to offer support and advice on a whole range of issues including contractual, landlord and tenant, criminal and human rights violations.

“Although in many parts of the Commonwealth access to justice and the rule of law is at the forefront of everyday life, there are still pockets of deprivation in this area,” he said. “Students from all walks of life having access to legal perspectives from their legal peers in the Commonwealth is groundbreaking and historic.”

Commonwealth Students’ Association Chair Stanley Njoroge said: "By helping law students throughout the Commonwealth to understand and secure their rights, we have shifted the ground in Commonwealth cooperation.

"The partnership draws from Commonwealth legal history: Commonwealth nations have similar jurisprudence based on common law, maxims of equity and case law.

"The partnership will also seek to further Commonwealth values of democracy, freedom, good governance, human rights and economic development as enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter. This is in line with the recently passed Colombo Declaration on Youth, which seeks greater youth participation in decision making and supports good governance and accountability as measures towards sustainable development."

The signing of the MoU was attended by members of the Commonwealth's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division (LCAD), Dr Richard Cornes from the School of Law and Vice President (International) at the University of Essex Students’ Union 2013-14 Dmitry Christie plus members of Essex’s Bar Society.

Essex’s Bar Society was started in the autumn of 2012 for likeminded students interested in a legal career and going on to work as a barrister. The society now has more than 150 members and is one of the fastest growing at the Colchester Campus.

As part of the partnership members will focus on one of four regions - Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Pacific.

Chad, who has just completed an LLB Law and is staying at Essex for a Masters, said: “The feedback from the Bar Society is that our members see this as a phenomenal opportunity, but it places a huge responsibility on us to deliver at a high level. The Commonwealth Students’ Association had the confidence to award this to our bar society as they feel we have the skill and competence and we have to meet their expectations.”

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