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Susan Bright

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Professor of Land Law, McGregor Fellow

Sue teaches land law, contract law, regulation, and housing and human rights. She has been teaching at Oxford University since 1992, after a period as a solicitor in London and teaching at Essex University.

Her research spans doctrinal law, socio-legal, empirical methods and inter-disciplinary work and is mainly in the area of property law, with a focus on issues relating to commercial property and housing.

Sue is currently working in three main areas. The first relates to housing possession. In April 2014 she published a report on her research with Dr Lisa Whitehouse, Hull University. This report examines case management and the legal process of possession including the amount of advice and support available to defendants at court premises and draws on surveys and interviews. Information about this work, and the report, is available at: Following on from this work she is exploring the process of decision-making in possession cases, drawing on law, psychology and the behavioural sciences.

Sue also works in the area of environmental performance and the commercial built environment, particularly examining the development and role of ‘green leases’. Her published research discusses the opportunities and challenges for the environmental improvement of the performance of the tenanted commercial built environment with a particular focus on the impact of the Carbon Reduction Commitment, and of green leases. She has co-authored work that brings together both the physical and the social sciences of energy use in buildings so that technological solutions are made effective by an understanding of the way that buildings are used and communities behave. She is part of a research team that has been awarded money from EPSRC on a project called: Wicked, that examines Energy Management in the Retail Sector. Further details about this project are available at:

The eclectic nature of her research approaches has led Sue to think about how legal scholars conduct research. She is currently guest-editing (with Professor Sarah Blandy) a special issue of the Property Law Review that explores different research methods in property law.  A summary of findings from a survey of property law academics that feeds into this project can be found at:

A selection of Sue's papers can be accessed on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) at:

Sue is also a fee-paid Judge of the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), a Fellow of the South African Research Chair in Property Law, a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the University of New South Wales and an academic member of the Chancery Bar Association.


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Journal Articles


S Blandy and S J Bright, 'Editors' Introduction and Survey Findings, Research Methods in Property Law' (2014) 3 Property Law Review 139 [...]

Guest Editors Sarah Blandy and Susan Bright explain the background and inspiration for this Special Issue of the Property Law Review journal. They present the results of their 2013 cross-jurisdictional survey on property law scholarship, which sought to discover which methods of research are most common and to explore whether dominant approaches vary between jurisdictions, revealing a diversity of property law research approaches.

L Whitehouse and S J Bright, 'The empirical approach to research in property law' (2014) 3 Property Law Review 176 [...]

This article offers an account of the unique characteristics, challenges and benefits of empirical legal research. The authors explain that empirical legal research involves the collection and observation of data through a variety of research techniques, such as interviews, observation and surveys, and how it differs from some of its close neighbours, in particular socio-legal research. While the challenges posed by empirical legal research are acknowledged, this article argues that it enriches property law scholarship by enabling researchers to weave together the law learned in books with the law understood and applied in practice.


S J Bright and H Dixie, 'Evidence of Green Leases in England and Wales' (2013) 6 International Journal of Law in the Built Environment 6 [...]

DOI: 10.1108/IJLBE-07-2013-0027

This paper reports on research that investigates the use of green clauses in leases of office and retail premises in England and Wales. We examined 26 recent leases of green build properties registered at HM Land Registry. The green clauses discovered were classified, and compared with the model form green clauses promoted by the London based Better Building Partnership’s Green Lease Toolkit.

S J Bright, 'Green Leases – Becoming more usual? ' (2013) Estates Gazette


C Axon and others, 'Building Communities: Reducing Energy Use in Tenanted Commercial Property' (2012) 40 Building Research and Information 461 [...]

DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2012.680701

Reducing energy use in tenanted commercial property requires greater understanding of ’buildings as communities’. Tenanted commercial properties represent: (1) the divergent communities that share specific buildings and (2) the organisational communities represented by multi-site landlord and tenant companies. In any particular tenanted space the opportunity for environmental change is mediated (hindered or enabled) through the lease. This discussion draws on theoretical and practical understandings of (i) the socio-legal relationships of landlords, tenants and their advisors; (ii) the real performance of engineering building services strategies to improve energy efficiency; (iii) how organisational cultures affect the ability of the sector to engage with energy efficiency strategies; and (iv) the financial and economic basis of the relationship between owners and occupiers. The transformational complexity stems from: (i) the variety of commercial building stock; (ii) the number of stakeholders (solicitors, investors, developers, agents, owners, tenants and facilities managers); (iii) the fragmentation within the communities of practice; and (iv) leasehold structures and language. An agenda is proposed for truly interdisciplinary research that brings together both the physical and social sciences of energy use in buildings so that technological solutions are made effective by an understanding of the way that buildings are used and communities behave.

ISBN: 0182-3329

S J Bright, 'Green Commercial Leases: Bringing Together Practice and Theory' (2012) Property Law Review 1 [...]

This is a note about a symposium held in Sydney involving industry leaders and academics in order to explore better (green) leasing practices.

Craig Roussac and others, 'Improving environmental performance through innovative commercial leasing: An Australian case study' (2012) 4 International Journal of Law in the Built Environment 6 [...]

DOI: 10.1108/17561451211211714

The paper explains how difficult it is within the structure and content of conventional leases to reduce the environmental impact of the tenanted commercial built environment. It explores the interplay between the content and structure of commercial leases and the behaviour of building owners, managers, tenants and occupants, illustrated through the experiences of a large Australian-based commercial office building owner/operator.


S J Bright and J Bettle, 'Ashby v Kilduff – a modern day morality tale?' (2011) 41 Family Law 168

S J Bright and Nick Hopkins, 'Home, Meaning and Identity: Learning from the English Model of Shared Ownership:' (2011) 28 Housing, Theory and Society 377 [...]

DOI: 10.1080/14036096.2010.527119

This article explores the problematic nature of the label ‘home ownership’ through a case study of the English model of shared ownership, one of the methods used by the UK government to make home ownership affordable. Adopting a legal and socio-legal analysis, the article considers whether shared ownership is capable of fulfilling the aspirations households have for home ownership. To do so, the article considers the financial and non-financial meanings attached to home ownership and suggests that the core expectation lies in ownership of the value. The article demonstrates that the rights and responsibilities of shared owners are different in many respects from those of traditional home owners, including their rights as regards ownership of the value. By examining home ownership through the lens of shared ownership the article draws out lessons of broader significance to housing studies. In particular, it is argued that shared ownership shows the limitations of two dichotomies commonly used in housing discourse: that between private and social housing; and the classification of tenure between owner-occupiers and renters. The article concludes that a much more nuanced way of referring to home ownership is required, and that there is a need for a change of expectations amongst consumers as to what sharing ownership means.

ISBN: 1403-6096


S J Bright, 'Carbon Reduction and Commercial Leases in the UK' (2010) 2 International Journal of Law and the Built Environment 218 [...]

This paper explores the potential impact that the introduction of the UK’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme will have on a) energy use in the tenanted commercial built environment and b) the idea of the net lease.

ISBN: 1756-1450

S J Bright and S Highmore, 'Carbon Reduction Commitment and Commercial Leases' (2010) 74 Conveyancer 430 [...]

This article discusses the complexities of accommodating CRC within commercial leaes and explores drafting responses


S J Bright, 'Occupation Rents and the Trust of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996: from Property to Welfare? ' (2009) 73 Conveyancer 378


S J Bright, 'Drafting Green Leases' (2008) 72 Conveyancer 498 [...]

This article looks at how the commercial leasehold relationship can be operated in a manner that reduces the environmental impact of building use. It looks particularly at the role of the leasehold contract and argues that all releases can be drafted and operated in an environmentally sensitive manner.

ISBN: 0010 -- 8200

S J Bright, 'Green leases' (2008) 158 New Law Journal 1135

S J Bright and others, 'The Greening of Commercial Leases' (2008) 26 Journal of Property Investment and Finance 541 [...]

DOI: 10.1108/14635780810908389

The paper considers how policy changes may drive changes in leasing practices, in order to reduce environmental impact from the commercial building stock.

ISBN: 1463-578X

S J Bright, 'To the Rescue' (2008) ROOF 40 [...]

This looks at how the law may come to the aid of those caught out by sale and rent back scams.


S J Bright, 'Protecting the Small Business Tenant' (2006) 70 Conveyancer 137 [...]

article arguing that small business tenants needed the same kind of protection as is available to other consumers

ISBN: 0010-8200


S J Bright and others, 'Personal Liability in Proprietary Estoppel' (2005) 69 The Conveyancer 14 [...]

Argues that in cases of estoppel relating to land the "representor" (A) is liable to the "representee" (B), and that this personal liability survives a transfer of the land to C.

S J Bright, 'Procuring the Notice to Quit: A Public Law Challenge' (2005) 8 Journal of Housing Law 6 [...]

Discusses the Court of Appeal case in McCann v Birmingham and asks whether the local authority's encouragement to serve a notice to quit can be challenged in public law.

ISBN: 13686542

S J Bright and B McFarlane, 'Proprietary Estoppel and Property Rights' (2005) 64(2) Cambridge Law Journal 449

S J Bright, 'Tolerated Trespass and Stock Transfer' (2005) 2005 (8) Journal of Housing Law 15


S J Bright, 'Unfair Contract Terms and Local Authority Tenancies' (2004) Journal of Housing Law '2 [...]

Casenote on Khatun v Newham LBC

ISBN: 13686542


S J Bright and others, 'Anti-Social Behaviour: Local authority responsibility and the voice of the victim' (2003) CLJ 305 [...]

Considers whether victim of ASB can compel LA to take action to stop the behaviour

S J Bright, 'The Concept of the Tolerated Trespasser' (2003) 119(Jul) Law Quarterly Review 509


S J Bright, 'Avoiding Tenancy Legislation: Sham and Contracting Out Revisited' (2002) CLJ 146 [...]

This article reviews the case law on whether attempts to avoid tenancy regulation work. It sets out the approaches that can be seen being used in the cases to determine if agreements are geniune or not, and argues that the approach taken by the Court of Appeal in Bankway Properties went beyond the traditional use of the doctrine.

S J Bright, 'Estate Rent charges and Reasonableness' (2002) 66 Conveyancer 507 [...]

Considers case of Orchard Trading


S J Bright, 'Liability for the bad behaviour of others' (2001) 21 OJLS 311 [...]

Whether landowner should be responsible for bad behaviour of others from his land

ISBN: 01436503



S J Bright, Landlord and Tenant Law in Context (Hart Publishing 2007)


S J Bright, Landlord and Tenant Law. Past, Present and Future. (Hart 2006) [...]

Collection of essays edited by Susan Bright, with introduction by Susan Bright. Based on conference papers for conference held in September 2005. The conference was conceived and brought together by me to stimuate debate between academics and practitioners, and to provide a reflective look at landlord and tenant law as a whole.

ISBN: 978-1-84113-593-9



S J Bright, 'Manchester City Council v Pinnock' in N Gravells (ed), Landmark Cases in Land Law (Hart 2013) [...]

This chapter explores what the case of Manchester CC v Pinnock means In terms of the rhetoric of ownership and our doctrinal thinking about property rights. It is argued that it heralds a much more contextualised understanding of what it means to assert ownership of land and of how claims for the recovery of land should be resolved. It is these dimensions that are explored in this chapter

ISBN: 9781849462570

S J Bright, N Hopkins and N Macklam, 'Owning Part but Losing All: Using Human Rights to Protect Home Ownership' in N Hopkins (ed), Modern Studies in Property Law (Hart 2013) [...]

“Shared ownership” is used to provide an affordable route into home ownership. Yet there is a significant problem with the shared ownership scheme; as Richardson v Midland Heart [2008] L & TR 31 shows, in the event of the home “owner” falling into rent arrears, he or she may lose not simply his or her home, but also the equity in the property. This chapter examines whether there is some way of using existing legal principles to avoid this unjust outcome by either; first, protecting the use value of the home by relying on Convention rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 to prevent termination of the “shared ownership” lease; or, secondly, recouping the investment value of the home by using human rights law to enable the home “owner” to retain the equity even if the home is lost.

ISBN: 1849463212

S J Bright, Jeremias Prassl and Hannah Glover, 'Tenancy Agreements' in E Simpson and M Stewart (eds), Sham Transactions (Oxford 2013)

S J Bright and L Whitehouse, 'The Opportunities and Challenges of Empirical Work: Housing Possession in Theory and in Practice' in Bram Akkermans, Eveline Ramaekers and Ernst Marais (eds), Property Law Perspective II (Antwerp: Intersentia 2013) (forthcoming) [...]

This paper explains how empirical enquiry of the kind unburdened by the pursuit of a particular hypothesis or strict adherence to scientific methods, has much to offer in terms of developing our understanding of law and, in particular, the traditionally doctrinal field of property law, providing insights into the operation of law that cannot be learned from books alone. The argument is discussed in the context of an ongoing research project by the authors that investigates whether ‘non-financial’ considerations are taken into account during the process of housing possession, looking at both owner-occupied and rented housing. The project is a broad enquiry exploring the extent to which issues other than property rights and the ability to pay are considered when it comes to losing a home, that is, matters such as the welfare of children, health problems, community networks, attachment and so on. The study is not confined to the ultimate decision making stage, when the judge decides whether or not to order possession, but looks also at how non-financial factors inform decisions made earlier on, such as whether a mortgagee thinks that the time has come to issue possession proceedings. Although the study is of possession proceedings in England, and is based around the English legal system, the purpose of this paper is not to report on the research findings but to make a point of broader significance in relation to the role of empirical research within legal scholarship.


S J Bright and others, 'Evaluating Legal Models of Affordable Home Ownership in England' in T. Turnipseed (ed), Community, Home and Identity (Ashgate 2012) [...]

This chapter explores the legal modesl used to provide for low cost home ownership and: a) Explains the legal frameworks used to deliver the main LCHO products available in England; b) Explores the potential benefits of home ownership to the individual in the form of wealth creation, “mainstreaming” and security of place; c) Sets out key additional policy objectives of LCHO, in particular introducing and supporting tenure mix (sustainable communities) and sustaining the opportunity for continued use of the subsidy to provide access to LCHO for intermediate income households; and d) Evaluates the extent to which the different products available deliver both the individual benefits of home ownership and support the wider policy objectives.

ISBN: 9781409438540


S J Bright, 'Dispossession for Arrears: The Weight of Home in English Law ' in L Fox O’Mahony and J A Sweeney (eds), The Idea of Home in law: Displacement and Dispossession (Ashgate 2010) [...]

This chapter examines whether, and if so the extent to which, the processes of dispossessing a debtor of his or her home enable weight to be attached to the importance of this home to this person. The focus is upon what will be called the ‘personal home story’.

ISBN: 978-0-7546-7947-9


S J Bright, 'The limits of contractual freedom in English commercial leases' in Francoise Auque (ed), Baux commerciaux, Quel modele pour l'Europe? (Larcier 2009)


S J Bright, 'Unfairness and the Consumer Contract Regulations' in A Burrows and E Peel (eds), Contract Terms (Hart 2007) [...]

This chapter looks at the meaning of unfairness and its inter-relationship with the method chosen to implement the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations.

ISBN: 978-0-19-922937-6


S J Bright, 'Street v Mountford Revisited' in S Bright (ed), Landlord and Tenant Law. Past, Present and Future 2006 (Hart Publishing 2006)

Case Notes


S J Bright, 'The Uncertainty of Certainty in Leases' (2012) 128 LQR 336 [...]

This note explains the significance of the Supreme Court decision in Mexcfield v Berrisford


S J Bright and others, 'Low Cost Home Ownership: legal issues of the shared ownership lease' (2009) 73 Conveyancer 337


S J Bright, 'Article 8 Again in the House Of Lords: Kay v Lambeth; Leeds CC v Price' (2006) 70 Conveyancer 294

S J Bright, 'Eviction for Anti-social Behaviour' (2006) 70 Conveyancer 85

S J Bright, 'Tolerated Trespass or A New Tenancy?' (2006) 122 Law Quarterly Review 48


S J Bright, 'Managing or Leasing?' (2005) Conveyancer 352


S J Bright, 'Ending Tenancies by Notice to Quit: the human rights challenge' (2004) 120 LQR 398 [...]

Case note

ISBN: 0023-933x

S J Bright, 'Unfair Terms and Unfair Allocations' (2004) Journal of Housing Law 40 [...]

Note on Court of Appeal decision in Khatun v Newham LBC

ISBN: 13686542


S J Bright, 'Landowners Responsibility in Nuisance for Anti-social behaviour' (2003) 67 Conveyancer 171 [...]

Casenote on Winch v Mid-Beds

Presentation/Conference contributions


Janda, K. B and others, 'A WICKED approach to retail sector energy management' 1 , paper presented at ECEEE Summer Study, 1-6 June 2015 (Presqu'île de Giens, France). Vol. 1 - Foundations of Future Energy Policy, European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy: Stockholm, Sweden. 185 [...]

The UK retail sector is vital to the economy, diverse, and facing a number of challenges. Retailers range from multinational corporations to small independent stores, selling everything from antiques to frozen yoghurt. Stakeholders include landlords, tenants, and owner-occupiers. Across the sector, energy costs and requirements for understanding, displaying, and reporting energy use are increasing. Meanwhile organisations face competing pressures to “go local”, support staff development, and keep prices down. Because of this diversity, retail energy management creates a “wicked” problem, where solutions to challenges are contentious and multi-faceted. The Working with Infrastructure Creation of Knowledge and Energy strategy Development (WICKED) project provides energy solutions for different retail market segments. Through cooperative research, WICKED investigates clusters of technical, legal, and organisational challenges faced by retail groups, including those with smart meters and energy managers (the “data rich”) and those without (the “data poor”). In partnership with energy suppliers, retailers, landlords, SMEs, and Oxford University, WICKED develops actionable energy and business insights by combining (1) top-down big data analytics, (2) middle-out organisational research, and (3) new bottom-up data. Building on this interdisciplinary evidence base, WICKED co-designs market-ready energy strategies to fit the retail sector’s diverse needs. The project uses a segmented socio-technical model to explore challenges faced by six different types of stakeholders in the retail market: data rich and data poor owner-occupiers, landlords, and tenants. This paper presents data from three different organizations: a European electronics retailer; a multi-national full-service department store; and a budget shopping centre with 91 units. These cases show that one size does not fit all: the data rich and poor will need different energy management solutions. Smart meters will not solve everything: further analysis is necessary to turn numbers into knowledge. Changes to legal infrastructure (e.g., leases) will be needed to assist tenants and landlords in sharing data to enable both groups to monitor, measure, and report energy use. Additionally, how organisational cultures frame employee duties, behaviours, and expectations requires further investigation.

Kathryn B. Janda and others, 'The evolution of greener leasing practices in Australia and England' , paper presented at RICS COBRA AUBEA 2015 [...]

Improving the environmental performance of the built environment is a ‘super wicked’ problem, lacking a simplistic or straightforward response. This is particularly challenging where space is rented, in part because the relationships between the various owners, users and managers of the space is regulated – at least in a formal sense - through the lease. Traditional leases largely ignore environmental considerations and present barriers to making energy efficient upgrades. Leasing practices are evolving to become greener. Evidence from a Sydney Better Buildings Partnership (BBP) study, Australian leasing experts, a UK commercial lease study and a case-study of a major UK retailer, Marks & Spencer (M&S), suggests an increasing, trend towards green leases in most of these markets and opportunities for improving environmental performance through green leasing. Further research is needed in both countries to understand the impact that greener leasing has on environmental performance of buildings.



S J Bright and Dr L Whitehouse, 'Information, Advice and Representation in Housing Possession Cases' ( 1 2014) [...]

The research for this report was conducted using research methods including legal analysis; interviewing decision-makers involved in housing possession cases and observing court possession days. The initial research aim was to evaluate the extent to which non-financial considerations (such as the welfare of children, exacerbation of health problems, loss of community networks, etc.) are taken into account in possession cases. Surveys were conducted to obtain detailed information about case management and the legal process of possession including the amount of advice and support available to defendants at court premises. In the full report suggestions for improvement are made, including a review of court forms, changes to the use made of the rent and mortgage pre-action protocols, and that consideration should be given to whether the adoption of a less formal process would improve attendance rates whilst reducing demands on the judiciary and other court resources.


Workshop on Future-proofing flats: overcoming legal barriers to energy improvements in private flats

This event was held in London on the 17 March 2015 and organized by Westminster Council, Professor Susan Bright of New College, Oxford and Future Climate to focus on what has hitherto been an under-explored issue: the legal and consent barriers to the promotion of energy saving improvements in blocks of flats, with a particular focus on private sector blocks […]

Future-proofing flats: overcoming legal barriers to energy improvements in private flats

The report following the recent successful Future-proofing Flats event has been published […]


Teaching: Contract; Land Law; Regulation

Research: Landlord and Tenant, Housing, Green Leases, Research Methods

Other details

Correspondence address:

New College
Holywell Street,

other affiliation(s):

Oxford Human Rights Hub

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