A Brief History
Created in 1998 on the initiative of His Hon George Dobry CBE QC to fulfil a growing need for support, advice and training to young lawyers from countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Foundation was named after Lord Slynn of Hadley, formerly the British judge at the European Court of Justice and then a law lord, in recognition of his contribution to the development of the principles and practice of European Law in its broadest sense.
Between 1999 and 2004, under the leadership of Lord Slynn, the Foundation organised many two-day or three-day workshops, mainly in the ten states which were to join the European Union in 2004. These workshops were mostly concerned with EU law and practice, but some of them touched on human rights law. There were also mutual exchange visits, funded by the former British Association for Central and Eastern Europe, between senior judges and senior court administrators in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria and their counterparts in this country. In addition the Foundation organised a prestigious annual lecture on a Europe-related topic, and brought one young lawyer each year to London for nine months for a mix of experience gained from attending academic lectures, working in City solicitors’ firms and barristers’ chambers and meeting senior members of the judiciary.
Because public funding for these activities dried up after 2004 and the Foundation was unable to secure alternative sources of funds, its activities were steadily reduced between 2004 and 2009 (the year when Lord Slynn died).However since 2009, the Foundation has widened its purpose, and is steadily reasserting its influence as the principal exporter of British judicial know how to an international audience. The Foundation’s geographical sphere of interest has since widened from Europe to embrace the Arab world, with recent visits to Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraqi Kurdistan and Morocco, and has secured FCO funding to work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
How the Foundation Operates
The work of the Foundation is overseen by the Board of Trustees many of whom also undertake and lead the Foundation’s project work.
In addition we are fortunate in our ability to attract people of the highest standing in the UK legal world who give their time and experience on a largely pro bono basis, to assist in the delivery of our projects. In the last few years these projects have been delivered by retired and serving appellate, High Court, Circuit and district judges, Queen’s Counsel, as well as specialist barristers, senior academics and retired senior court administrators.
We also have a distinguished group of patrons for whose support we are very grateful.
The Foundation’s expansion enabled it to appoint an Executive Director (Alison Fenney, who retired at the end of 2020. The current Executive Director is Katherine Eden Haig who joined in January this year) and an Executive Administrator (Ruth Eldon) who are responsible for the day to day running of the Foundation.