Article 1. (Name)
The name of this Organization shall be the “Presidents of Law Associations in Asia” (hereafter, ‘POLA’).
Article 2. (Nature)
POLA shall be a non-political gathering known as a ‘POLA Summit’ convened for international exchange and cooperation amongst the presidents of bar organizations in Asia.
Article 2A. (Attendance)
Attendance in person by POLA Members at POLA Summits is preferred and strongly encouraged. However, it is recognized that on occasion it may be necessary and pragmatic for a POLA Member to attend by virtual means. In such a situation, prior notice of virtual attendance must be given to the Host Bar Association. The POLA Member attending by virtual means, having given prior notice, will have all the rights afforded to POLA Members attending in person, including the right to vote on any resolution.
Article 3. (Objects)
The objects of POLA shall be:
- 1.To exchange information and mutually cooperate regarding the operation and organization of the bar associations.
- 2.To provide regional cooperation for the promotion of peace and human rights activities.
- 3.To make joint efforts for the enhancement of the rule of law.
- 4.To co-operate in advancing the status of lawyers, in developing the legal profession and the scope of its activities and in strengthening the activities of the bar associations in the region
- 5.To cooperate with related international or global organizations such as the United Nations, and other regional or international legal profession organizations.
- 6.To encourage increased public interest advocacy.
- 7.To reinforce the norms of professional ethics; and
- 8.To foster the development of regulatory systems which ensure transparent and rule-based governance.
Article 4 (Membership)
- 1.AAny bar organization representing a majority of the practicing lawyers in a country or area in Asia shall be eligible to apply to become a POLA Member. The term “bar organization” shall include a bar association, a lawyers’ council, a law society, or any other organization of lawyers with a similar name.
- 2.Applications for POLA membership shall be affirmed by a vote at the next Annual Summit. If an organization is not accepted as a POLA Member, this shall not preclude the same organization from applying again for membership in the future.
- 3.POLA membership may be revoked during the proceedings of an Annual POLA Summit by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the members present at the POLA Summit. If the POLA membership of a bar organization is revoked, this shall not preclude the same bar organization or another bar organization representing the same majority of the practicing lawyers in a country or area in Asia from applying for POLA membership again in the future.
- 4.In making decisions regarding POLA membership, POLA Members will be guided by the principle that where a bar organization represents a majority of the practicing lawyers in a jurisdiction of Asia, that organization should be a member of POLA, with due sensitivity and consideration given to the inclusion of sub-national Bars and in circumstances where more than one organization with national or other significance acts as a representative of the profession in a country or area in Asia.
- 5.Any president of any international legal association may participate in the POLA Summit in session as an Associate Member-Observer with the approval of the Host Bar Association upon the recommendation by three or more POLA Members. An Associate Member-Observer shall not be eligible to vote on any matter. Associate Member-Observers may observe the proceedings of the Annual Summit and witness the deliberations and resolutions of POLA Members. They may also give presentations at the Annual POLA Summit if requested on the basis that this does not displace or prevent contributions by POLA Members. It is expected that Associate Member-Observers will report their observations to their home organizations.
- 6.Any POLA Member may request that a specific portion of the Annual POLA Summit program takes place in the absence of one or more Associate Member-Observers. If such a request is made, all Associate Member-Observers to which the request applies will leave the meeting until called to return by the Chairperson. The request may be withdrawn immediately by the POLA Member making the request or by a vote of not less than two-thirds of POLA members in attendance.
Article 5. (Annual POLA Summit)
- 1.The POLA Summit shall, in principle, be held once a year in the country or area in Asia of a POLA Member and be hosted by one or more POLA members located in that country or area in Asia (the Host Bar Association). The agenda of the POLA Summit shall be determined by the Host Committee established for that year’s POLA Summit, in consultation with other POLA Members. Every effort will be made by the Host Committee to notify the POLA Members of the items to be included on the agenda and any proposed resolution to allow sufficient time for the POLA Members to prepare for the POLA Summit, and in any event will circulate the agenda and proposed resolution(s) not less than one month prior to the POLA Summit. However, it is recognized that on occasions, there may be unexpected items of urgency requiring discussion at POLA Summits. In such circumstances, a decision on how the matter should be considered and progressed will be decided by two-thirds of the POLA Members attending the Summit.
- 2.Each POLA Summit shall include:
i) a Presidents’ meeting;
ii) one or more substantive plenary sessions; and
iii) a POLA Summit dinner.
- 3.The Host Bar Association may also offer optional social and cultural events that are not part of the formal POLA Summit.
- 4.The Chairperson, or their nominee, will Chair the Presidents’ meeting with impartiality and respect for the equal standing of all POLA Members. The purpose of the Presidents’ meeting will be to:
i) allow the President or a nominee of each POLA Member to table a written report and provide a brief oral report on the current status and activities of their organization;
ii) facilitate discussion of matters relevant to the administration of POLA and the pursuit of its objects;
iii) conduct votes on formal resolutions; and
iv) determine the subsequent Host Bar Association, the place and date of the subsequent Summit and to provide an opportunity for POLA Members to suggest topics for discussion at the subsequent POLA Summit.
- 5.The purpose of the substantive plenary session(s) will be to grant each POLA Member in attendance the opportunity to give a presentation on a topic related to POLA’s objects. As per Article 4(5), Associate Member-Observers may also give presentations at the Annual POLA Summits if requested on the basis that this does not displace or prevent contributions by POLA Members.
Article 6. (Resolutions)
- 1.Each POLA Member shall have an equal vote.
- 2.Votes shall be conducted by the Chairperson, who may appoint additional persons to assist the conduct of the vote if required.
- 3.Unless otherwise specified, the majority required for all votes shall be not less than two-thirds of all POLA Members in attendance.
- 4.The quorum for any vote shall be not less than half of the total number of POLA members, including those not in attendance.
- 5.Despite Article 6(4), no quorum is required to vote to revoke POLA Membership in accordance with Article 4(3) where the POLA Member whose membership is to be revoked has failed to provide:
i) an explanation to the satisfaction of a majority of POLA Members in attendance regarding repeated, recurring or habitual failure to attend Annual POLA Summit; or
ii) current contact information and therefore cannot be contacted.
- 6.Except for amendments to this Charter, any formal resolution is not binding upon any POLA Member unless that POLA Member agrees to be bound. Any binding obligation may be terminated immediately and without penalty upon the POLA Member providing written notice to all other POLA Members. A resolution includes, but is not limited to, a statement, declaration or communique recording the position of POLA Members in relation to any issue relevant to POLA’s objects.
- 7.Any POLA Member may propose a vote on any issue. There is no need for the proposal to be seconded before conducting the vote.
- 8.To preserve POLA’s capacity to conduct its business without unnecessary delay or complexity, proxy voting is not permitted.
- 9.Resolutions proposed at the POLA Summit and the result of the voting upon those resolutions will be noted as an aggregate result in a record made at the POLA Summit. It is a matter of discretion for each POLA Member as to whether they wish their individual vote, whether in support, disagreement or abstention, to be noted in the record.
Article 7. (Host Bar Association)
- 1.The Host Bar Association for the succeeding Annual POLA Summit will be decided upon at the preceding POLA Summit. The selected bar association will become the Host Bar Association for one calendar year, commencing on 1 January and be responsible throughout that calendar year for the organization and management of the Annual POLA Summit as well as providing a written record of POLA Summit proceedings, decisions and resolutions. The Host Bar Association will also be responsible for overseeing the work of any ad-hoc committees during the calendar year of the Summit it is responsible for organizing.
- 2.The Host Bar Association for a POLA Summit shall designate a Chairperson, typically the President of the Host Bar Association at the time of the POLA Summit, and a contact officer working in the Secretariat of the Host Bar Association.
- 3.Where two or more POLA Members have elected to work together to deliver a POLA Summit, these members will be referred to collectively as the Host Bar Association. In these circumstances, each POLA Member hosting the POLA Summit shall designate a Chairperson. The designated Chairpersons shall be co-chairs, unless otherwise agreed between themselves.
- 4.The Host Bar Association may change, reassign or designate additional official roles and contact persons as required to deliver a POLA Summit. These will be promptly communicated to all other POLA Members and Associate Member-Observers.
- 5.The Host Bar Association may request assistance from other POLA Members in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Charter.
- 6.The Host Bar Association shall give appropriate notices to, and confer with, all POLA Members concerning the progress of preparations for the POLA Summit it is responsible for organizing, including by providing opportunities for other POLA Members to provide input regarding the topics for discussion at the POLA Summit.
Article 8. (Ad Hoc Committee)
Ad Hoc Committees may be established for planning, preparing, and implementing activities specifically designated by the Chairman as the main activities to be resolved by POLA.
Article 9. (Finance)
- 1.The Host Bar Association shall bear the costs arising from hosting the POLA Summit.
- 2.The President of each country’s bar association and any other official participant in the POLA Summit shall bear their own travel and attendance expenses.
- 3.The Host Bar Association may request payment to cover the cost of optional social and cultural events that are not part of the formal POLA Summit.
Article 10. (Duration)
- 1.These amendments to the Charter of The Conference of the Presidents of Bar Associations in Asia adopted in 1991 shall take effect upon the approval by the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the Members present at the 2023 POLA Summit.
- 2.POLA shall continue in perpetuity.
Article 11. (Amendment of Charter)
Subject to quorum, this Charter may be amended by the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the members present at the POLA Summit.
Adopted at the Presidents' Summit on 15 July 2023 at the 33rd Presidents of Law Associations in Asia (POLA) Conference held at the Shangri La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 14 to 15 July 2023.