UCL Faculty of Laws


Peter Birks Scholarship recipient Nicholas Tiverios speaks to UCL Laws

14 October 2014

After graduating from the University of Western Australia Law School with first class honours in 2011, Nicholas was the legal research officer at the High Court of Australia, working out of the chambers of the Chief Justice of Australia the Hon. Robert French AC. During his year working at the High Court, Nicholas also worked as a sessional academic at the Australian National University.

He then went into legal practice, first working for an international commercial law firm and then with the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office. In 2014 he moved to England to study for the LLM at University College London, graduating with distinction and ranked first in the year after being awarded the Sir John Salmond Scholarship as the top applicant from Australia and New Zealand.

In 2015 Nicholas was awarded the inaugural Peter Birks Memorial Scholarship by UCL to study for a PhD on contractual penalties. His thesis explores the underlying doctrinal justification for the law of penalties in light of recent decisions of the highest courts in both the United Kingdom and Australia, the outcome of which has led to a number of fundamental divergences between common law jurisdictions. Nicholas is also seeking to provide clear guidance to commercial practitioners as to how changes in this area of law fit together.

“My experience of working on a private law doctoral thesis at UCL has been intellectually rewarding and enriching. Compared to the fast paced cut and thrust of day-to-day legal practice, it is fantastic to be placed in an environment where I have the time to consider important legal issues without worrying about large amounts of factual material, administrative work, practice management or other practical limitations.

"More specifically, UCL has been the perfect place to undertake my project. When it comes to undertaking a doctorate I think that your choice of supervisors is of the first importance. UCL has a large number of excellent private law scholars and my supervisors Prof. Ben McFarlane and Prof. Charles Mitchell were very worthwhile choices. Both have published academic work that I admire and both Ben and Charles have a strong commitment to teaching and making time for students notwithstanding their seniority.

"During my PhD studies my supervisors have challenged me to think broadly about private law and how various contentious issues raised by my thesis interrelate with other topics. Further, I am incredibly grateful to both Ben and Charles for taking the time to help me publish, present and attend conferences and also to teach.

"Another benefit of studying at UCL is that it is a pleasure to undertake postgraduate studies in London, one of the most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities in the world. There is always something intellectually stimulating going on at UCL or a nearby institution when you need a break from your studies, if need be.

"Finally, I am incredibly grateful to have received the inaugural Peter Birks Memorial Scholarship. My project would simply not be viable without it. Of course, there is the arithmetic attaching to the scholarship or what the US would call the 'dollars and cents': the obvious financial benefits that come with the full fee waiver and stipend. But I believe that the scholarship has been the perfect stepping stone into an academic career.

"I simply don’t think I would have received the same number ofinvitations to participate at conferences or teach at other institutions had I not received this Scholarship.”