News story

Government lawyers support international pro-bono work

Government Legal Department's procurement law experts deliver pro-bono training in Rwanda

Two of GLD’s procurement law experts have recently returned from Rwanda where they delivered contract management training to government officials on a pro bono basis. The training aims to improve contract management and reduce the loss of public money arising from delays due to poor quality government contracts and contract management processes.

According to the Rwanda Report of the Auditor General, for the year ending June 2014 78 contracts worth an equivalent of £117.2 million were not completed within the contract period. Furthermore, of these, 14 projects worth the equivalent of £3.1 million were abandoned after paying £1.7 million to contractors. Ifeoma Nwabude and Lillian Arinze, both from GLD’s Commercial Law Group were invited to provide the training, in December 2015. This followed the development of contract management tools, including a contract management handbook that is seen by the government of Rwanda as a key mechanism to help reduce unnecessary losses of public funds. This is part of a wider government-led initiative supported by the DFID-funded Legal Assistance for Economic Reform (LASER).

Although figures are not yet available to demonstrate the impact of the contract management intervention, a LASER survey has revealed that more than 50% of surveyed legal officers are reporting stronger contract management processes as a result of initiative.

Isabelle Kalihangabo, the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General at the Rwandan Ministry of Justice, who opened the full day workshop, expressed her appreciation for the support of Ifeoma and Lillian. She said: “LASER has helped us by dedicating a permanent member of staff and finding pro bono trainers and helping training”. She also encouraged the participants to give the training their full attention by saying that “it’s not every day you have UK experts to learn from”.

Legal and procurement officers from across a number of ministries attended the workshop. The government of Rwanda’s long-term objective is to build internal capacity so that they will deliver the training without external support in the future.

Ifeoma Nwabude said: “The workshop participants were hugely appreciative of the opportunity to hear from and benefit from the experiences of UK government lawyers – in particular the challenges involved in procuring and managing government contracts effectively to achieve value for money. In turn, it was an opportunity for us to gain an insight into the Government of Rwanda’s contracting structures and specific commercial issues.”

Lillian Arinze said: “I was immensely proud to carry the torch for GLD lawyers doing international pro bono work. My motivation was to share the expertise I have gained as a UK government commercial lawyer and help with this capability building work”.

The trip was funded by the DFID-funded Rule of Law Expertise UK (ROLE-UK) programme which aims to improve the rule of law by facilitating access to specialist UK legal and judicial expertise.