On 22 September 2017, the Law Society held a reception to mark the end of the first judicial training programme for judges and senior court officials from Kazakhstan, which was implemented in collaboration with City Law School and INTO City.

Over 16 law firms, 14 barristers’ chambers as well as the Judicial Office participated in this ambitious project, and hosted these delegates during week-long placements on a pro bono basis. Other law firms and institutions such as the British Russian Law Association (BrKLA), Birmingham Law Society, CityUK, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Inner Temple, , Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Slynn Foundation also organised seminars and workshops at their institutions.

This bespoke judicial training programme, designed by the Law Society at the request of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) and the Supreme Court of Kazakhstan, combines legal academic training with practical placements, which was complemented by a series of evening seminar in specialist legal areas delivered by leading legal practitioners. The programme showcases the quality and expertises of the legal profession in England and Wales.

As a relative young nation, Kazakhstan faces many rule of law challenges but it has shown commitment to learn from others by integrating best practices from other jurisdictions. Training in English common law and rule of law is regarded as an important step in reforming Kazakhstan’s judicial system, which would increase effectiveness and transparency in line with the nation’s economic and political modernisation.

A total of 14 Kazakh judges and senior court officials participated in this judicial training project, which was aimed at providing an introduction to the English common law system as well as strengthening their skills on various legal topics including: judicial law-making, the doctrine of precedent; contract law and sales of goods; banking and finance; disputes resolution and international arbitration.

Discussions on topics such as rule of law, international human rights principles and professional ethics generated a lot of interesting discussions among these practitioners and, in particular, on the need for best practices. Placements in law firms, chambers and the Commercial Court provided first-hand experience of the English legal system in operation. It also allowed for fruitful networking opportunities and the chance to establish long lasting relationship with UK legal practitioners and academics.

The Law Society is organising a follow-up session in Kazakhstan, which will be aimed at consolidating some of the learning, presenting the Law Society’s evaluation report as well as discussions on future projects.