The Centre for Law in Action (CLA) has been in existence for fifteen years, (since 2002) and during this time has successfully established itself as a leading service provider for the training of municipal and government employees in the implementation and enforcement of legislation. CLA also aims to improve governance in local government, through the improvement of the skills and capacity of those who are involved in public affairs, and who can make a contribution towards improving service delivery (councillors) and public safety.

CLA operates as an entity under the auspices of the Faculty of Law in terms of the Nelson Mandela University policy relating to engagement entities. The Centre includes a capacity building unit focusing on the improvement of criminal justice and government in the local sphere, the Refugee Rights Centre (RRC) with its primary focus to improve access to justice for refugees and asylum seekers and the newly established Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy (FishFORCE), which has fisheries crime law enforcement as its key focus area.

CLA engages with all sectors of civil society that serve community needs and contributes to sustainable development through capacity building, skills development, the rendering of institutional support and the establishment of best practices and benchmarks. The primary aim of CLA is to improve the levels of service delivery by the different spheres of government through the effective implementation of existing legislation and training through:

  • The improvement of the skills and capacity of those who are involved in public affairs, and who can make a contribution towards improving service delivery;
  • Assisting public authorities to implement and enforce legislation to effectively manage public problems and issues;
  • Assisting communities, refugees and asylum seekers to improve their quality of life through creating access to legal resources; and
  • Improvement of government, by increasing the effectiveness of officials.

Key considerations in favour of CLA include the following:

  • The university is a public tertiary body with civic responsibility.  It has an enormous interest in the effectiveness and performance of all governmental and other institutions that impact upon society.
  • The Centre is an integral part of an effective structure that ensures effective management and control.  It is interdisciplinary and inter-institutional.
  • The Centre is managed by an academic manager with sufficient status, experience and skills in order to ensure academic credibility and the achievement of objectives.  His experience includes the writing of legal opinions (as an advocate) on government matters upon the receipt of instructions from attorneys; being a facilitator for the Hans Seidel Foundation; managing the Centre; the publication of academic articles; the writing of proclamations and the drafting of legislation.  He is a rated researcher registered with the South African National Research Foundation.
  • The team has an intimate knowledge of municipalities and their methods of operation.
  • The university has a wide pool of highly qualified personnel and staff from which expertise and assistance can be drawn.  It has a well-developed procurement department that is a member of the Purchasing Consortium Southern Africa and possesses sound financial management and audit departments through which compliance with healthy financial practice is ensured.
  • The Centre forms alliances with other academic institutions and private concerns for the purpose of drawing upon intellectual expertise, to develop intellectual capacity and to prevent duplication.