Private and Commercial Law
Both private and commercial law have been studied at Queen’s University since its foundation in 1845. Private law researchers work across a range of core areas, fusing traditional legal narratives with more contemporary debates. Property lawyers in the School of Law have played a leading role in debates around the modernisation of land law in Northern Ireland and elsewhere; major social policy issues such as home ownership and mortgage repossession; and the emotional dynamics of property law in inheritance disputes, and adverse possession. The re-emergence of slavery and forced labour has produced research on property law’s role in controlling these abuses. And at a time when the highest levels of domestic violence have been recorded in Northern Ireland, our family lawyers are researching the role of international and regional human rights law in combating this form of abuse.
Our intellectual property research has been influential and highly innovative, with award-winning films (Inaugural AHRC Research in Film Awards 2015) and pioneering open access projects (displayatyourownrisk.org; digitisingmorgan.org; copyrightcortex.org). Work on copyright and cultural heritage has lead museums and galleries to revise their institutional policies on open culture and open data, and a research report on copyright and archives helped shape the dialogue about the need for an international treaty on copyright exceptions for libraries, archives and museums.
Research expertise in the law of obligations has produced highly regarded works on contract law and legal remedies for practitioners, some of which has been cited in the House of Lords, the Supreme Court of Canada and the High Court of Australia. The connection between torts law and human rights abuses, and the protection of the environment, are also highly significant fields of research. In recognition of the enormous expense of modern dispute resolution we have also undertaken important work on the funding of litigation and access to justice- some of which also falls under the broad umbrella of commercial law.
Colleagues researching in corporate law have undertaken work on corporate governance and corporate responsibilities, drawing on how corporate actors’ social roles are negotiated and defined. In doing so colleagues take their cue from corporate scandals and from corporate reporting and cause marketing initiatives. They address law’s role– and its limitations– in regulating the conduct of corporations and their officers. This research also looks at whether companies are accountable for their roles in human rights abuses, health and environmental matters. Finally, in the competition law sphere, we have undertaken important work into preventing businesses from rigging markets, stifling competition and damaging the interests of consumers.