About Community Legal Services (CLS) Programme

Community Legal Services (CLS) is a Department for International Development (DFID), UK supported programme implemented by Maxwell Stamp PLC as the principal contractor, and the British Council and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (UK) as the implementing partners. CLS is a five-year programme ending August 2017 which provides grants to eligible NGOs to support delivery of community legal services. CLS encompasses a set of interventions that promote greater access of the poor to legal entitlements, better protection of human rights and appropriate modes of dispute resolution through:

  • Legal and human rights awareness and education, alongside community organisation;
  • Identification of gaps and issues that rise out of knowledge of the law and human rights;
  • Community level mediation services provision;
  • Engagement with the Union Parishad officials for the resolution of problems;
  • Engagement with village courts and arbitration councils on cases within their jurisdiction;
  • Provision of legal aid at the district and national levels;
  • Community policing forums for resolution of disputes at the local level;
  • Development and deployment of competent community paralegals; and
  • Research and advocacy as complementary to community level action.

CLS aims to provide greater access to justice to poor, marginalised and socially excluded communities in Bangladesh. Its overall objective is to improve the quality and coverage of CLS in Bangladesh, build sustainability into CLS programme interventions of potential grant partners, and encourage and create an enabling environment for legal service providing NGOs and community based organisations, to coordinate their activities for improved delivery of CLS to the target beneficiaries.

Based on Geographic Expansion Plan (GEP), CLS prioritises expansion of services in areas with:

  • Extreme poverty (> 48% poor);
  • Vulnerability, like the coastal areas, char lands (riverine islands), slum dwellers, and
    indigenous people;
  • High presence of reported cases involving violence against women;
  • Low penetration of NGO legal services; and
  • Low utilisation of GoB legal aid fund.

Fact Sheet

CLSCLS is an access to justice program for the poor and marginalised communities
in Bangladesh, working through Bangladeshi national and regional NGOs
Grant PortfolioGBP 12 million
DurationFebruary 2012 to August 2017
Main TargetsTo cover 1162 unions (or expand 15% of the baseline) in terms of geographic
coverage and 10 million people in terms of reach
Geographic Location1232 unions and urban wards all over Bangladesh
Modalities of
Service Delivery
  • Legal Awareness Programme

  • Legal Advice

  • Dispute Resolution through Mediation

  • Support to Litigation

  • Case Referral to various justice providers (public and private)

  • Public Interest Litigation (PIL)
Grantees and ConsortiumsRound-1 CLS Grantees/PNGOs
1. Assistance for Slum Dwellers (ASD)
2. Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
3. Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST)
4. Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA)
5. Bright Bangladesh Forum (BBF)
6. Coastal Association for Social Transformation Trust (COAST Trust)
7. Community Development Centre (CODEC)
8. Green Hill
9. Light House
10. Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA)
11. Nagorik Uddyog (NU)
Round-2 CLS Grantees/PNGOs
12. Banchte Shekha
13. BLAST-Young Power in Social Action (YPSA)
14. Brotee Samaj Kallyan Sangstha
15. Sabalamby Unnayan Samity (SUS)
16. SKS Foundation
17. Uttaran
18. WAVE Foundation
There are also 12 PNGOs who are working as consortium partners of the
above-mentioned Round 1 and Round 2 CLS Grantees/PNGOs
Population Coverage (by use of services)506,686 (As of December 2015)
Population Reached (estimated)13,090,521 (As of December 2015)