Modern Studies in Property Law Postgraduate conference

Louise Cheung: University of Southampton 

The MSPL Postgraduate stream in April allowed PhD students and early career researchers the opportunity to discuss their research projects, receive valuable feedback and get an insight into careers after postgraduate study. This post shall discuss the prevalent themes coming from postgraduate property law research, and highlight some particular research papers of interest.

The public versus the private

A prevalent and all-encompassing theme of the ‘public versus the private’ demonstrates the interesting interconnection between the civil property right and the public law, a very popular subject for researchers and undergraduate students alike. Andrew Noble’s work concerning the effectiveness of local government regulation of the taxi trade draws an interesting case study about how national standards to ensure consistency and uniformity, can improve a system currently reliant upon local authority regulators creating and implementing their own system of ‘law’ outside the legislative framework, and the taxi trade acquiescing in this regime. Andrew’s work also uses a novel qualitative-based empirical approach. I had attended an interesting talk in 2012 at King’s entitled ‘The Interface of Public and Private law: Concepts of Property Symposium’ which highlighted again the various and innovative research methods which can draw together and challenge thinking on the connection between property rights and public rights.

Intimate partner constructive trusts

The underlying theory behind intimate partner constructive trusts was the subject of two papers at the MSPL Postgraduate Stream, recognising the contemporary approaches used in this scholarly work, and particular passion for this technical yet human issue. Kate Galloway’s work used again a novel approach noting the self-reinforcing paradigm of an understanding of property in this context, and reinforced that a gendered view of property exists in this area. Kate’s work suggests strongly that a systemic change is required to prevent the inhibition of women’s full and equal engagement in society. I am sure that Kate will expand on this rudimentary explanation of her thesis in another blog post, but suffice to say that this increasingly labyrinthine topic is expertly condensed and extrapolated to fully engage with its contextual aspects in her paper.

Constitutional property law relationships 

Native title was the subject of Marja Omar’s paper, which analysed the recognition of common law native title in her native country of Malaysia as the only way to safeguard indigenous land rights. This is a theme recognised all over the world where aboriginal people’s rights have been affected, where land use rights are not being legislated for comprehensively.  Estair Van Wagner’s work evaluates the problem of property rights and relational theory for non-owners in land use disputes with relevance to an extraction of a quarry, looking at particular case studies in Canada and Australia, her research bridges property, planning and environmental law. These bridges being made between different parts of the law represent the new interdisciplinary research projects bringing a new appreciation of understanding to different collaborative audiences.

Real, Immoveable, Personal, or Moveable Ownership

Ownership again represents an all-encompassing more theoretical, almost philosophical approach to property rights. Luke Rostill’s work discusses whether a title is a property right by using a line of cases to argue that an alternative view exists whereby having possession of a chattel is a condition of the law deeming a person to be its owner. Relative title is a concept which can only be expressed theoretically, but Luke’s work uses cases to entrench his argument pushing forward a new approach to this discourse. Ownership itself is a useful receptacle for comparative studies which was addressed in papers concerning Scots law and German law.

Government policy and housing 

Social housing and welfare benefits to fund housing is an every increasing complex area of research. The State’s public housing policy and welfare benefit social security system available for low-income people poses an added layer of complexity to housing law research. Invariably any inquiry into policy requires a historical and contextual perspective. Charlotte Hood-Fredriksen’s paper looks at policy history to extrapolate how social housing has become the stigmatised entity for the most marginalised household in the UK. She identifies conceptualizations of the deserving and undeserving poor found in Victorian policy, and reveals how this is reflected in policy today.

This conference for postgraduate researchers was a fantastic chance to develop research and to disseminate knowledge with a range of delegates from around the world, from different backgrounds and gain feedback from a wonderful source of knowledge. The next major event for young property law researchers is the Young Property Lawyers Forum in September 2014 at Wadham College, University of Oxford.




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