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UCL Private Law Group

UCL Faculty of Laws brings together a vibrant group of researchers in private law, whose interests take in the law of obligations, property law, comparative law, and the public/private law divide

Private Law group

Members of our Private Law Group have published many highly regarded books and articles in these areas, and are actively engaged in organising conferences, lectures and workshops to promote informed engagement with current issues in private law scholarship.

The Private Law Group is committed to the rigorous academic study of private law topics and fostering dialogue between different communities of private law scholars including, but not restricted to, doctrinal lawyers, legal philosophers, economists, historians and sociologists.

Recent research by Group members has included:

  • the development of new theoretical frameworks in the law of obligations
  • explorations of the relationship between private law and governance in the EU
  • historical patterns of change in private law
  • new insights into legal doctrine such as the mitigation rule, nuisance, restitutionary defences and proprietary estoppel

In addition to advancing the academic understanding of private law, our members regularly engage with a wide community of practitioners, and have measurably influenced the way in which important cases have been pleaded and decided.

People

To find out more about individual members of the Private Law Group, select a name to visit their profile on the UCL Laws website.

Past events

Each year UCL Faculty of Laws hosts many lectures and workshops in the field of private law. We have also hosted major international conferences and symposia on: Philosophical Foundations of Property Law (2012), Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law (2013), Contract and Fiduciary Law (2016) (in collaboration with the Yale Center for the Study of Private Law, as part of the Yale UCL Collaborative), Global Futures of Unjust Enrichment (2017), and Modern Studies in Property Law (2018).

We also run an annual workshop to support early-career scholars working in the field of private law. The following scholars have given papers at past workshops:

2013 (on Property)  – Michael Ashdown (Oxford), Tatiana Cutts (Oxford), Ying Khai Liew (KCL), Nick Piska (Kent), Rachael Walsh (TCD), Emma Waring (Cambridge)

2014 (on Obligations) – Kim Bouwer (UCL), Andrew Dyson (Oxford), Matthew Dyson (Cambridge), Dorota Leczykiewicz (Oxford), Phillip Morgan (UCL), Solene Rowan (LSE)

2015 (on Property) – Dan Carr (Edinburgh), Amy Goymour (Cambridge), Robin Hickey (QUB), Magda Raczynska (Bristol), Luke Rostill (Oxford), Charlotte Woodhead (Warwick)

2016 (on Obligations) – Sinead Agnew (Cardiff), Rachel Leow (Cambridge), Kelry Loi (NUS / Oxford), Ewan McGaughey (KCL), Paul MacMahon (LSE), Radosveta Vassileva (UCL)

2017 (on Property) – David Foster (KCL), Mark Jordan (Southampton), Emma Lees (Cambridge), Aruna Nair (KCL), Andreas Televantos (Cambridge)

2018 (on Obligations) – Jodi Gardner (Cambridge), Joanna McCunn (Bristol), Nick Sage (LSE), Sandy Steel (Oxford), Nicholas Tiverios (UCL), Gemma Turton (Leicester)

Studying private law at UCL Laws

There are many opportunities for graduate students wishing to pursue private law at UCL. As well as the PhD programme, a number of private law modules are available on the UCL LLM programme, including:

  • Commercial Remedies
  • EU Contract Law
  • International and Commercial Trusts Law
  • International and Comparative Secured Transactions
  • Regulation and Tort
  • Restitution of Unjust Enrichment

In some years, one or more of these modules may not run. Please check the module page on our website to find out up to date details on availability.

Scholarships

Several scholarships are available to PhD students undertaking private law research at UCL Laws. You can find further details about these scholarships on the Graduate Research pages of our website.

Read about Nicholas Tiverios, recipient of the Peter Birks Scholarship.

Student experience

After graduating from the University of Western Australia Law School with first class honours in 2011, Nicholas Tiverios 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.'