In July 2012 the first Legal Histories of the British Empire Conference was held at the National University of Singapore. This conference was the brainchild of Emeritus Professor John McLaren of the University of Victoria, Canada. The aim, as the title suggests, was to foster research into the legal histories of the British Empire with an emphasis not on Britain but on the colonial and post-colonial world. At that conference a decision was made to continue meeting on a regular basis. A second conference, which was to have been organised by Wes Pue and held in Accra, Ghana did not proceed. The actual second conference, then, was held at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados, in 2018. The third conference is now being planned for Maynooth University, Ireland, which was near the edge of ‘the Pale’ of English settlement in Ireland.

After Singapore the decision was made to broaden the remit of the conference, beyond just the British Empire, to include legal histories of colonies and Empires generally. Our url, however, lhbe.org, reflects our origins in that first conference in Singapore. John McLaren remains a guiding light for this conference and, in his honour, the keynote address will henceforth be called the McLaren lecture.