East Africa 2004 - 2008

Uganda/ Kenya/ Tanzania/ Ethiopia

The CBA with financial support of the CIDA Partnership has worked with the Law Societies of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya since 1998.  While the social, economic and political development of these three countries was closely linked in the past within the ambit of East Africa, their paths diverged immediately after independence, with a socialist state in Tanzania, a state of tyranny in Uganda and an elitist state in Kenya.

More recently, as political regimes in each of the countries have evolved, efforts have been made to strengthen the political and economic ties within East Africa, including strengthening the links among its institutions. Within the justice sector an East African Court has been established, initially to deal with economic and trade related matters, jurisprudence is shared and, within the legal profession, the East African Law Society is taking a more prominent role.

The CBA programs have been developed not only to respond to the needs identified in each of the countries, but also to reflect and support the move towards increased collaboration within the East African region. This regional approach has increased the effectiveness and impact of all the programming at both the national and regional level. In 2001 Ethiopia was added to the East African CLE support program and in 2004 the Zimbabwe Law Society and the SADAC Lawyers Association were invited to participate in Regional Conferences on Continuing Legal Education and Governance.

From 1998 – 2001 the CBA worked with the Law Societies on four issues:

  • The administration of courts;
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution;
  • Enhanced methods for legal research and legal reporting; and
  • Developing and supporting Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs in each country to increase the skills of the local bars.

In addressing these matters we engaged all the key stakeholders in the legal system, including the Government, the Bench and the Bar. This was a major accomplishment, given the antagonism, which tended to characterize the stakeholder relationships in each of the countries.

From 2001 – 2006,  given the need to strengthen the independence of the bar, the CBA focused on building capacity within the bar, with a focus on continuing legal education, governance and regional advocacy.


  • Improved relationships between the Bench and Bar in each of the participating countries. The Bench and the Bar worked together on joint committees on technology in Kenya and case management in Uganda and Tanzania;
  • Stronger profile and institutional capacity of the Law Societies of Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and the Bar Association of Ethiopia; 
  • Enhanced regional cooperation;
  • Mechanisms were put in place to assist judges in reporting their decisions, while also providing the Bar with enhanced access to legal research;
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms are now being used extensively, which impacts the case backlog;
  • Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia have institutionalized CLE training;
  • Improving governance has become a priority for all of the participating law societies. They have effective approaches, processes and tools that they are utilizing to improve their ability to represent, regulate and discipline the profession and thereby help ensure a stronger and more independent bar.