A flourishing and supportive research environment

Dundee Law School has a flourishing and supportive research environment.  Current interests and activities cover a wide variety of research traditions that include black letter, comparative, philisophical, socio-legal, interdisciplinary and historical approaches to the study of law across a range of subject areas.

Staff bring wide experience from a range of jurisdictions. The research strengths of the School were recognised in the results of the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

Dundee was one of only two law schools in the United Kingdom to achieve a 100% international standard classification, with half of our research being graded internationally excellent or world leading.

Research Areas


Public International Law

The Law School has a vibrant international law research group with four academic staff (Churchill, Hartmann, Kirk and Shields), a post-doctoral researcher (Liu) and six postgraduate research students working in this area. Particular areas of expertise include human rights, international criminal law, international environmental law and the law of the sea.  In recent years staff have carried out funded research for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Seafarers Rights International, the UN Environment Programme and a number of foreign governments. Liu holds a Marie Curie Fellowship for research on the EU and the protection of marine biodiversity in the Arctic. Churchill’s publications have recently been cited in the decisions of courts in Kenya and Norway, in pleadings before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and in the Report of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident (2011). Kirk’s research has informed debate at Intergovernmental Meetings to develop the Global Programme of Action on protection of the marine environment from land-based activities. Staff regularly present at conferences around the world and contribute to international law blogs such as EJIL: Talk!

Staff are on the editorial boards of leading international law journals, including the British Yearbook of International Law and the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law. Kirk is on the Governing Board of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law and co-editor of its e-journal.

Key Publications

R. Churchill, The Law of the Sea (with A. V. Lowe), 3rd edition (Manchester University Press, 1999)  

J. Hartmann, “Extradition and the European Convention on Human Rights” in M. Bohlander and K Kaikobad (eds), Law, the State and Justice: Essays in Honour of Colin Warbrick (Martinus Nijhoff, 2009) 25-62

E. Kirk, “Marine Governance, Adaptation and Legitimacy” (2012) 22 Yearbook of International Environmental Law 1-30

N. Liu, “The European Union's Potential Contribution to Enhanced Governance of Arctic Shipping,” Zeitschrift für ausländisches öffentliches Recht und Völkerrecht/Heidelberg Journal of International Law

K. Shields, “Rewriting the Centricity of the State in Pursuit of Global Justice” in A Perry Kessaris and D Ashiagor (eds), Socio-Legal Approaches to International Economic Law (Routledge, 2012), pp. 235-49


Corporate & Commercial Law

Corporate and Commercial Law research at Dundee is interdisciplinary and often collaborative. Cross has collaborated with colleagues in the Dundee School of Business. Belcher’s work on themes relevant to Directors’ decisions; Trust, Risk, Corporate Culture, Information and Communication, and Collective Responsibility is socio-legal in nature and incorporates theories that have their origins in an appropriate array of other disciplines. Kirk’s work on the production of reporting of normativity in organisational reporting is both interdisciplinary and collaborative, again with accounting academics. Shields’ work lies on the boundaries between Human Rights, Fair Trade and corporate compliance. Corporate Insolvency is an area of research for Belcher and Xie. Belcher has written on Directors’ Disqualifications with the aid of a small grant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS). Research has been funded by the Scottish Government (Cross), EHRC, AHRC, Leverhulme and ICAS (Belcher) and in the form of an AHRC Network award (Belcher with Kirk and others are part of a small team). Belcher has been invited to speak at a Dundee seminar organised by the Dean of the School of Business as a celebration of Nobel Prize-winning Economist Coase’s work on “The Theory of the Firm” which was undertaken in Dundee: another instance of the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the Law School’s research.

Key Publications

2012 A. Belcher “Metaphysical Spookiness? The Collective Responsibility of Company Directors” Griffith Law Review, 21 (3) 609-636

2013 S. Cross, "Financialization and Company Law: A Study of the UK Company Law Review" with Collison, D., Ferguson, J., Power, D. & Stevenson, L. in Critical Perspectives on Accounting

2012 E. Kirk, "The production of normativity: A comparison of reporting regimes in Spain and the UK" with J. Bebbington and C. Larrinaga in 37 Accounting, Organizations and Society, pp. 78-94

2013 K. Shields, 'Ethical Trade Networks as Catalysts for Corporate Compliance with Human Rights' in S. Wrbka and S. van Uytsel (eds) Network Governance and the Law: Proceedings of the 2013 Annual Conference at the University of Kyushu, Japan (Springer Publications)

2012 B. Xie, "Role of insolvency practitioners in the UK pre-pack administrations: challenges and control"  International Insolvency Review , 21(2) 85-103

Criminal Law & Justice

Criminal Law & Justice

Research into Criminal law and Justice is led by three members of staff: Professor Pamela Ferguson, Dr Genevieve Lennon and Professor Fiona Raitt. Their interests embrace substantive criminal law, criminal procedure (including police powers), and the construction and interpretation of the rules of evidence. Ferguson has co-authored a critical analysis of Scots Criminal Law, and Raitt is the author of a major text on Evidence Law.

Other research projects conducted within substantive criminal law have included: codification of Scots Criminal Law (Ferguson: Draft Criminal Code for Scotland with Commentary, Scottish Law Commission, pp. 205, 2003 - co-authors: E. Clive, C. Gane, and R. A. A. McCall Smith); rape and other sexual offences (Ferguson and Raitt); breach of the peace (Ferguson); counter-terrorism law (Lennon); policing powers (Lennon) and vagrancy laws (Lennon).

In respect of criminal procedure, our research has explored: independent legal representation (Raitt:); corroboration (Ferguson and Raitt); and police powers of stop and search (Lennon).

Evidence Law projects have included: scientific evidence (Ferguson and Raitt); children as witnesses (Raitt); expert evidence (Raitt) and women and syndrome evidence for which Raitt was shortlisted for the British Psychological Society Book Award 2004 (F.E. Raitt, The Implicit Relation of Psychology and Law: Women and Syndrome Evidence (Routledge, 228pp, 2000) (Co-author: S. Zeedyk).

All three staff members consider the impact on Criminal Justice of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Key Publications

P.R. Ferguson, Scots Criminal Law: A Critical Analysis (640pp, DUP, 2009) (co-author: C. McDiarmid)

F.E. Raitt, Evidence: Principles, Policy and Practice (2nd edn, 306 pp, W Green, 2013)

P.R. Ferguson, Breach of the Peace (176 pp, DUP, 2013)

F.E. Raitt, Independent Legal Representation for Complainers in Sexual Offence Trials (Report for Rape Crisis Scotland, 2012)

Lennon, G. ‘Suspicionless stop and search – lessons from the Netherlands’ CrimLR 12 (2013) 975


Public Law

The Law School’s expertise in public law encompasses the major dimensions of the subject - constitutional and administrative, national and international, procedural and substantive. The School’s considerable contributions to research in public international law, environmental law and human rights are discussed separately.

Perhaps rather uniquely, the focus of much of the School’s work in public law is on government - what it does and the constraints, legal and otherwise, to which it is subject - rather than the legislature or the courts.  Daintith and Page’s highly regarded The Executive in the Constitution: Structure, Autonomy and Internal Control (OUP 1999), offered the first constitutional and legal analysis of the inner workings of executive government for many years. Based on research undertaken within the framework of the ESRC’s Whitehall programme, it demonstrated how the executive’s own mechanisms of control are no less crucial a dimension of the constitutional order than the more familiar external machinery of democratic and legal control.

A joint venture between the School and the Scottish Information Commissioner led to the establishment of the Centre for Freedom of Information whose focus is on the development, interpretation and implementation of laws which provide rights to information globally. The Centre’s current main project, which is assisted by funding from the Open Societies Foundation, concentrates on the work of information commissioners and equivalent appellate bodies worldwide. Dunion’s Freedom of Information in Scotland in Practice (DUP 2011) is the definitive work on freedom of information law in Scotland.

Much of the School’s public law research in recent years has examined the United Kingdom’s new ‘territorial’ constitution, both that aspect of the constitution which is specific to the individual devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and that aspect which deals with the relationship between the devolved administrations and the wider United Kingdom and European legal orders. Page’s book on Constitutional Law for the Scottish Universities Law Institute (W Green & Son, forthcoming) aims to provide the first full account of constitutional law in Scotland since devolution. AHRC funded work led by Ross and Reid examined the implementation of EU environmental law within the devolved structure of the UK and has been referred to in the reports of three different committees of the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

The public law aspects of environmental law including the implications of multi-layered governance, accountability for environmental performance and the use of various regulatory and institutional tools figure strongly in the work of the School’s environmental lawyers. Monographs explore governance of nature conservation (Reid) and sustainable development (Ross) across the UK and recent work has also covered the distinct climate change and marine legislation at UK and Scottish levels.

Key Publications

T. Daintith and A. Page, The Executive in the Constitution: Structure, Autonomy and Internal control (OUP 1999)

K. Dunion, Freedom of Information in Scotland in Practice (DUP 2011)

C. T. Reid Nature Conservation (W.Green, 2011)

J. McLean, Searching for the State in British Legal Thought: Competing Conceptions of the Public Sphere (CUP 2012)

A. Ross Sustainable Development Law in the UK – from Rhetoric to Reality (Earthscan/Routledge, 2013)

K. Dunion ‘Freedom of Information in Scotland and the UK: Time to Notice the Difference’ in R A Chapman and M Hunt (eds), Freedom of Information: Local Government and Accountability (Ashgate 2010)

A. Page ‘A Parliament that is Different? The Law Making Process in the Scottish Parliament’ in E Sutherland et al (eds), Law Making and the Scottish Parliament: The Early Years (EUP 2011)

Private International

Private International Law

Dundee Law School has an international reputation for research in the field of Private International Law through the work of McEleavy and Fiorini.  They are joined in the field by two doctoral students, the recipients of the Law School’s Scymgeour Doctoral Scholarships in 2013.

McEleavy’s work is centred on international family law.  His own doctoral research on the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which was published in an OUP monograph in 1999 (with P. Beaumont), has been extremely influential in the interpretation of the instrument and has been cited by courts worldwide.

McEleavy is co-author of the foremost Scottish on the subject: Anton’s Private International Law and a specialist editor of the pre-eminent English text: Dicey, Morris and Collins on the Conflict of Laws, 15th ed.  He has served as a consultant to the UK government on international family law matters and has also acted as an expert to the Council of Europe.

Fiorini’s work covers all aspects of private international law.  She is particularly interested in issues at the interface of public and private international law, the dichotomy of private international law methods and tools in the civilian and common law traditions and in the forms and consequences of the Europeanization of private international law.  She has undertaken research for the European Parliament on how future EU rules on family law should be developed. In 2013 she was instructed by the European Commission to advise the government of Montenegro on how to translate the EU civil law acquis into Montenegrin legislation.  

McEleavy and Fiorini have both acted as experts to both the European Commission (TAIEX Office) and the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

Key Publications

2012 P. McEleavy, Dicey, Morris & Collins on the Conflict of Laws, 15th ed., General Editor Lord Collins of Mapesbury, Sweet & Maxwell, London; Chapters 6, 19-21

2011 P. McEleavy, Private International Law with P. Beaumont, 3rd edition, SULI, W. Green, Edinburgh, Chapters 3,4,5,7,11,14 (non-Rome II rules only), 15-20

1999 P. McEleavy, The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction with P. Beaumont, Oxford Monographs in Private International Law, Oxford University Press, Oxford ISBN: 9780198260646

2012 A. Fiorini, "Habitual Residence and the Newborn - A French Perspective" in International and Comparative Law Quarterly 61(2), pp. 530-540

2008 A. Fiorini, "Rome III - A Step Too Far in the Europeanisation of Private International Law?" in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 22/2, pp. 178-205

Human Rights

Human Rights

Dundee Law School is a thriving environment for research in the area of human rights. Research is both doctrinal and theoretical. It focuses on institutional mechanisms for human rights protection, substantive and jurisprudential issues about the nature of human rights, feminist approaches to human rights, human rights and terrorism, human rights and transnational corporations, human rights and the environment, human rights in the context of private international law, human rights and global justice as well as human rights and development.  Research and teaching staff have different areas of expertise in human rights. Robin Churchill works on economic and social rights and his work has been published in leading human rights books.  Alan Page works on the relationship between human rights and constitutional law. Patrick Ford is interested in human rights from a practical perspective on account of his experience as a solicitor. Kirsteen Shields works on the relationship between human rights, fair trade and corporate compliance. Genevieve Lennon works on counter-terrorism law, strategy and policing, including the intersection of human rights with each. Jacques Hartmann works on criminal cooperation, human rights, immunity and jurisdiction. He is co-compiler of the United Kingdom Materials on International Law, British Yearbook of International Law, the ICRC project on Practice Collection on Customary International Humanitarian Law and the Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts. Oche Onazi works on the interface between legal theory, human rights and development.  Peter McEleavy & Aude Fiorini consider human rights implications in the context of global and European private international law.

 Key Publications

2013 K. Shields, 'Ethical Trade Networks as Catalysts for Corporate Compliance with Human Rights' in Stefan Wrbka and Steven van Uytsel(eds) Network Governance and the Law: Proceedings of the 2013 Annual Conference at the University of Kyushu, Japan (Springer Publications)

2013 O. Onazi, Human Rights from Community: A Rights-Based Approach to Development, Edinburgh University Press.

2012 R. Churchill, “The Protection of Economic and Social Rights: A Particular Challenge?” (with U. Khaliq) in H. Keller and G. Ulfstein (eds.), UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies (Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 199-260

2009 K. Shields, 'Labour Exploitation: Crossing the Threshold between Acceptable and Unacceptable Labour Standards' in Paulus Kaufmann, Hannes Kuch, Christian Neuhauser and Elaine Webster (eds) Humiliation, Degradation, Dehumanisation Human Dignity Violated (Springer Publications)

2008 J. Hartmann, 'Extradition and the European Convention on Human Rights' in M. Bohlander and K. Kaikobad (eds) Law, The State and Justice: Essays in Honour of Colin Warbrick (Brill, The Hague, pp. 25-65)


Environmental Law

Dundee is one of the leading law schools for environmental law research in the UK with experts in international, national and multi-level environmental governance. Particular areas of expertise include the management of living marine resources, the law of the sea, sustainable development, biodiversity and ecosystems management, climate change and environmental regulation.  Dundee’s research and staff inform policy and legal debate.  Previous research into path dependency in regulatory agencies has prompted institutional change within environmental regulators while research into the implementation of EU environmental law in a devolved Great Britain has been used in three separate parliamentary inquiries.  Work on sustainable development law is informing legislative changes in Wales and the role of parliamentary scrutiny in Scotland.  Current projects are informing the arctic governance, the environmental aspects of the independence debate in Scotland and debates on new approaches to conservation, e.g. biodiversity offsets.

Besides four permanent staff, the School currently has 5 PhD students doing environmental law topics and 1 LLM by research working on health and safety, a post-doctoral researcher (Nsoh) and a Marie Curie Fellow (Liu) all working in the area of environmental law.

Staff are on the editorial boards of the leading academic journals in the area and work is regularly funded by the research councils. Churchill is a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration's Panel of Arbitrators for Arbitration of Disputes relating to Natural Resources and the Environment. He is currently part of a team drafting a submission for the IUCN to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in connection with the request which the Tribunal has received for an advisory opinion on certain fisheries question. Reid and Ross are the academic members on the Environmental Law and Planning Law committees for the Law Society of Scotland and both sit on its Marine Law committee.  They also regularly act as advisers to various UK institutions. Kirk has advised government bodies in the UK and elsewhere and is on the Governing Board of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.

Key Publications

2010 Robin Churchill, The EC Common Fisheries Policy with Daniel Owen, Oxford University PressISBN: 9780199275847

2011 Elizabeth Kirk, "Regulatory Agencies and Regulatory Change: Breaking Out of the Routine" with A.D. Reeves in 13 Environmental Law Review, pp. 155-168

2012 Andrea Ross, "Sustainable Development Law in the UK - from rhetoric to reality", Earthscan / Routledge ISBN: 9781849712880

2013 Robin Churchill, “The Growing Establishment of High Seas Marine Protected Areas: Implications for Shipping” in R. Caddell and R Thomas (eds.), Shipping, Law and the Marine Environment in the 21st Century (Lawtext Publishing, 2013), pp. 53-88

2013 Colin Reid “Between Priceless and Worthless: Challenges in Using Market Mechanisms for Conserving Biodiversity” (2013) 2 Transnational Environmental Law 217-233