The course aims to engage with deep and difficult issues in criminal law through a blend of practical, theoretical, normative and comparative reasoningThe course aims to engage with deep and difficult issues in criminal law through a blend of practical, theoretical, normative and comparative reasoning.
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Options and Core Courses
The course explores the foundations of property and trusts, and also developments going beyond the core topics typically explored in core or undergraduate courses. It combines conceptual and functional analysis of doctrine with more abstract theoretical enquiry. Ideas and perspectives are drawn from moral and political philosophy, history, and economics, as well as more formally legal, comparative and jurisprudential analyses. Some knowledge of the legal details of property in one or other legal system will be essential for students taking the course. Much use will be made of English law and other common law systems, but we will also draw upon civilian legal systems in our explorations. The course gives students an opportunity to study fundamental institutions of private law with wide ramifications in the social sciences and humanities. Students will be exposed to the widest possible range of research and teaching in property law and trusts drawing on visiting scholars as well as Oxford faculty. The topics discussed are all ripe for exploration as areas of future research.
Students will be provided with course materials accessible through the internet and the intranet, together with material in university and college libraries. Students will explore the reading materials and address a set of thematic questions, on which they will be asked to prepare brief notes. Seminars and lectures will be augmented with tutorials; in tutorial weeks students will be asked to prepare essays on given topics and meet in small groups with teachers for debate and discussion.
Assessment will take the form of a three hour written examination at the end of the course. Candidates will be required to answer three essay questions from a wide choice of topics, which may cut across themes covered in the course. Candidates will be expected to show a detailed knowledge of relevant theoretical debates and also applicable legal materials, including judgments in cases, and statutory and constitutional provisions. They will also need to display an ability to synthesise complex materials and to present their own analyses of the arguments.
Business taxation is at the very heart of business affairs and practice. In recent years it has also caught the media and the public’s attention following revelations that many well-known multinational companies were able to structure their affairs in a way that significantly lowered their global tax liabilities. This led to claims that these companies were paying less than their “fair share” of tax, to parliamentary enquires on the issue and even to public protests outside the retail outlets of some of these companies. At the same time, concerns were raised that the existing system for taxing companies is not suited for a digitalised economy. These and other concerns have led to an unprecedented coordinated international process of reform involving 137 countries. This process, which is still on-going, could lead to the most fundamental reform of the international corporate tax system since its foundations were put in place in the 1920s. But some countries, including France and the UK, sped ahead, introducing new taxes targeting digital giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, leading the US to threaten broader retaliation through tax and trade measures. International business taxation is highly politically sensitive.
All this means that there has never been a more exciting time to study business taxation. Not only is it of huge importance in practice, but we are also living in a period of unprecedented public, media and political interest in the topic and unprecedented change. The Covid-19 pandemic has only sharpened the focus on taxation. Countries around the world will either increase existing taxes or introduce new taxes to raise further revenues to repay the eye-watering costs of the crisis. This course will provide you with a solid understanding of how business tax systems work in a domestic and international setting. But it aims to do much more. It looks at black letter tax law but always in the context of the policy behind it. The course will thus set out some of the basic policy choices that are made when designing a business tax system and assess their strengths and weaknesses. In other words, it will critically evaluate the existing system and the different options for reform. It will also take a step back and ask more fundamental questions, including: Does a properly functioning international business tax system require cooperation among countries? Can the international tax system take account of the interests of developing countries? And most fundamentally, should we have a corporation tax at all? To undertake this critical evaluation and to answer these questions we need to combine a rigorous understanding of the law with an understanding of concepts drawn from economics and other disciplines that are essential to good tax policy making. We adopt this dual approach on this course. We will engage with the law as it emerges from statutes, case-law and international treaties, as well as concepts, theory and empirical results from economics and other literatures.
The aim of this option is to examine a number of the most significant issues affecting the legal regulation of children, children and their families, and families more generally.
The readings have been selected to integrate deep, theoretical debates with contemporary legal, policy, and empirical developments. We are particularly concerned to understand the embeddedness and broader impact of the governing law.
Our intention is that, after completing the option, you are uniquely empowered and challenged to both critique and reassess the value of theoretical arguments made in this context, as well as reconsider how best to address real world problems.
This option will naturally appeal to students with a particular interest in family law and human rights law. More generally, it will appeal to students interested in broader debates that affect everyday life: Do children have rights? Do parents have rights? What should we value when deciding who should be seen as ‘parent’ in law – genetics, caring for the child, and so forth? It will also appeal to students who enjoy blending theoretical and conceptual arguments with the practical messiness of everyday life. Finally, it will appeal to students who are interested in bringing international sources of law to bear on such problems.
Learning outcomes: Through studying this option, you will be able to:
- Understand and critically evaluate theoretical approaches to ‘rights’, ‘children’s rights’, ‘welfare’, and ‘wellbeing’;
- Analyse the application and relevance of theoretical perspectives to topical legal issues relating to the regulation of children’s lives;
- Acquire a deep knowledge of topical legal issues that relate to the regulation of children in English law, the law of selected other jurisdictions, European and international law;
- Appreciate and be sensitive to the value of European, international, and cross-jurisdictional legal perspectives for the improvement of the English legal approach to regulating children and their families;
- Integrate and synthesise cross-disciplinary perspectives from theory, public and social policy, and empirical research, to generate enriched, holistic insights into the most significant difficulties in the legal regulation of children and their families.
The purpose of the course is to study the Civilian Law of Contracts, particularly the Law of Sale, as it developed from ca. 1100 AD till the end of the 19th century, with some limited comparison with the development of English law in the same period and the English use of civilian contract ideas. The Roman law of Justinian’s codification, as it was picked up in the late Middle Ages, provided the basis for this development. It was the subject of mediaeval and later commentaries; study of these will show how the texts were interpreted and eventually adapted to contemporary use. Key topics are the emergence of a general contract law with some of its aspects and the law of Sale. (In previous years the course was titled ‘Roman and Civilian laws of Contract’).
Learning outcomes: An understanding of how modern civilian doctrines emerged from the adaptation of Roman Law texts and how the emergence from a university environment gave these doctrines their distinct scholastic flavour. An understanding of basic concepts of the general civilian idea of ‘contract’ and of the civilian contract of sale in particular.
The aim of this option is to (i) introduce students to a conceptual approach to negotiation and mediation (negotiations assisted by a neutral third-party) and to the most important economic, game theoretic, psychological and legal issues and findings regarding the resolution of commercial disputes by means of negotiation and mediation; (ii) develop students’ skills in negotiating and mediating such disputes by engaging in role plays and other practical exercises, highlighting also the intercultural dimension of dispute resolution; and (iii) let students benefit from the experience of seasoned practitioners in the field who report on specific problems that arose during negotiated and/or mediated cases and provide feedback on students’ negotiation and mediation performance. By attending the course, students will gain the theoretical insights and practical skills to resolve commercial disputes by way of negotiation and/or mediation. The course will be taught by a combination of lectures, seminars, and tutorials, and will also feature practical workshops involving negotiation and mediation role play exercises.
This course aims to provide an in-depth understanding of remedies in a commercial context, interpreting that phrase in a wide sense. So it will cover remedies for civil wrongs (i.e., breach of contract, tort and equitable wrongs) but will exclude any direct consideration of damages for personal injury and death. The course will build on knowledge which all law undergraduates ought to have and will enable students to look in greater depth at matters dealt with at undergraduate level. The approach will be avowedly traditional in that the focus will be on case analysis and doctrine. As with the Restitution of Unjust Enrichment course, with which this will dovetail, the anticipation is that developments at the cutting edge of the law will be constantly debated. An important and novel aspect of the course will be to consider claims at common law and equity alongside one another, so as to see the similarities and differences.
Learning outcomes: a comprehensive understanding of remedies for civil wrongs in a commercial context.
This course critically examines the legal structure of constitutions in comparative perspective. It focuses on the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Germany, and students will be expected to acquire general knowledge of these constitutional systems and in-depth understanding of certain aspects that will be emphasised in the readings. The aim of the course is two-fold. The first is to understand how the above four constitutional systems structure, allocate, and limit legal and political powers, and how constitutional mechanisms for deliberation and decision-making operate in practice. The second is to gain general understanding of the nature of constitutions and constitutional law, in particular with respect to the following topics.
- Constitutional design and constitution-making
- Federalism, subsidiarity and devolution
- Representation and electoral systems
- Executive power and form of government (considering parliamentary, presidential and hybrid systems)
- Constitutions and the administrative state (considering various approaches to the independence of the administration from elected institutions, and to structuring judicial review through ordinary courts or special administrative courts)
- Judicial review of rights and other constitutional provisions
- Constitutional change: amendments, constitutional conventions, and revolutions
We will also consider the question of the methodology of studying comparative constitutional law. While the course considers the structure and justification of judicial review and examples of constitutional rights cases, there will be no extensive focus on case outcomes or legal doctrine in regard to constitutional rights. The course aims to increase understanding of the structures that produce case law on constitutional rights, but not to study that case law in depth. The selection of topics above is designed to complement (to a certain degree) the types of issues studied in the Constitutional Theory course.
This course explores the law of contract comparatively, using as its focus English contract law and the contract laws of national jurisdictions in continental Europe, set against the backdrop of the approximation of the national private laws of the European Union’s Member States and attempts over the last two decades to harmonise contract law in Europe. The course involves a deep comparative study of contract law, and is aimed equally at students with a common law or a civil law background, and indeed from any jurisdiction, within or outside Europe.
The modern ‘Europeanisation’ of private law has two dimensions. The first is extremely relevant to legal practice. It concerns the implications of existing legislation and case-law emanating from the organs of the EU for national private laws of Member States. Within the UK, the understanding of the implications of EU law for English private law has a particular contemporary significance in light of the decision in the 2016 referendum that the UK should leave the EU. Although the full repercussions of that referendum are yet to be worked out, the broader question of the impact of EU law on national private laws remains. The second dimension of ‘Europeanisation’ is of a more scholarly nature. It relates to a number of academic proposals for common European rules and principles in the area of private law (such as the so-called ‘Draft Common Frame of Reference’), based on thorough comparative research and drawing on the common European legal heritage. European Private Law therefore combines issues from at least three branches of legal scholarship, ie European Law, (national) Private Law and Comparative Law.
The course attempts to combine these disciplines by approaching particular problems from a European point of view as well as from the angle of various national private laws, thus necessarily adopting a comparative approach. The lecture series accompanying the course seeks to elucidate the different facets of European Private Law in a broader perspective by examining its historical foundations in the ius commune (‘the past’), the development of national private law systems and their interaction with today’s EU law (‘the present’) and the political and constitutional prospects for further harmonisation (‘the future’). The main part of the course consists of eight seminars devoted to a number of specific substantive issues taken from the law of contract, one of the core areas of private law in Europe and beyond. These are studied, as far as possible, with reference to primary materials, ie legislation and case law. Examples from national legal systems will mainly be drawn from English, French and German law. If, however, another legal system offers an interesting and original solution, this will also be taken into account. All the required reading is in English.
This approach already indicates that the course does not aspire to cover the whole of contract law with all its, say, constitutional and procedural implications, in all European legal systems, but is necessarily of a more topical nature, with a focus on selected core jurisdictions. The search is for – common or diverging – solutions to legal problems arising in all legal systems (including EU law and various proposals for further harmonisation, and taking into account reforms within national systems, notably the reform of the German law of obligations in 2002 and the reform of the French law of contract in 2016). These are looked at both from a technical point of view and with respect to the underlying principles, so that a balance is struck between the discussion of ‘black letter’ law and general policy issues. Participants will thus be in a position to evaluate existing national laws, and European/EU contract law, the potential for further harmonisation and the methodological implications of such a process.
Learning outcomes: to enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding in the area of comparative contract law, in a European context, and to discuss and assess critically at an advanced level the legal and policy issues arising therefrom. Participants may expect to gain a deeper understanding of the nature of contract law, basic knowledge of the major European traditions in this area of the law, the ability to master a wide range of strongly heterogeneous sources, and an awareness of harmonisation projects at EU level.
This half-option provides a comparative analysis of copyright law across the laws of the UK, the EU (with a particular focus on France and Germany) and the United States. These jurisdictions have been chosen because they have driven the development of copyright law internationally (initially through colonialism in the case of the UK and France and subsequently through dominance in multilateral fora and in bilateral trade negotiations).
The course is arranged thematically and is structured around the issues and dilemmas that all copyright systems have to confront. What sorts of creation attract copyright protection? What rights do we give to copyright owners? Who owns copyright and should freedom of contract be given primacy or should authors be protected from entering into disadvantageous agreements? When does some overriding goal of public policy justify the provision of a defence? The course will look at the conceptual frameworks, assumptions and matters of general legal policy that have produced the most noticeable areas of divergence. The course will also emphasise the need to be wary of crude and isolated comparisons and illustrate how countries can use superficially very different policy levers to produce outcomes that may not be all that different in practice.
Learning outcomes: a critical understanding of areas of convergence and divergence in copyright policymaking, a solid grasp of the international copyright system (including the provisions of the Berne Convention and TRIPS Agreement), an appreciation of the philosophical, ethical and cultural differences that are said to make harmonisation of copyright laws problematic.
The course offers an analytical framework and a comparative study of corporate governance and corporate law in major economies. Corporate governance, broadly defined, is the set of legal and non-legal tools that can be used to ensure that companies are run consistently with their purposes. In many jurisdictions, this has traditionally meant making sure that those in charge of making day-to-day and strategic decisions on behalf of the company act in the interests of shareholders. More recently, a ‘multi-stakeholder’ view of corporations has started to become mainstream: these are organizations whose actions affect the welfare not only of shareholders but also of creditors, employees, local communities and society more generally.
While the emphasis in the teaching will be on legal institutions, and corporate law specifically, the course materials will also cover the ways in which corporate culture, market pressures, reputational constraints, and so on, affect corporate governance and corporate law in action.
The course will be comparative, providing students with knowledge about corporate governance and corporate law core features in major jurisdictions and asking why governance regimes in most countries display some common features and why they diverge in other respects. Closer attention will be given to the UK, the US and continental European jurisdictions, but an attempt will be made to include readings covering newly emerged countries such as India, Brazil and others.
The course consists of a comparative study of major areas of the company laws of the UK, continental Europe (in particular, Germany) and the United States as well as an assessment of the work done by the European Union in the field of company law.
The three areas or jurisdictions selected for comparative study have, collectively, had a very significant impact on the development of company law throughout the world. An understanding of these thus assists students in understanding both the content of, and influences upon, many others. The approach taken is both functional and comparative, looking at a series of core problems with which any system of corporate law must deal, and analysing, from a functional perspective, the solutions adopted by the systems in question. The course seeks to situate these solutions in the underlying concepts and assumptions of the chosen systems, as these often provide an explanation for divergences. To this end, the course begins with a contextual overview of ‘systems’ of corporate governance, which material is then applied in the following seminars on more substantive topics. Such a comparative study is intended to enable students to see their own system of company law in a new and more meaningful light, and to be able to form new views about its future development. Finally, a study of the ways in which the European Union is developing company law within its boundaries is also important, not only as illustrating, by a review of the harmonisation programme, the benefits to be derived from a comparative study in practice, but also because it shows new ways in which corporate vehicles can be developed to meet particular policy objectives.
The course assumes students have knowledge of the basic structure of corporate laws, such as would be gained from an undergraduate course (regardless of jurisdiction).
Learning outcomes: an understanding of (1) the functions of corporate law, (2) the reasons why it may differ across jurisdictions, and (3) the operation of corporate law in the UK, US, and EU, together with a capacity to apply that knowledge to other jurisdictions.
The right to equality is ubiquitous in human rights instruments in jurisdictions throughout the world. Yet the meaning of equality and non-discrimination are contested. Is equality formal or substantive, and if the latter, what does substantive equality entail? Which groups should be protected from discrimination and how do we decide? How do we capture conceptualisations of equality in legal terms and when should equality give way to other priorities, such as conflicting freedoms or cost? The aim of this course is to examine these and other key issues through the prism of comparative law. Given the growing exchange of ideas across different jurisdictions, the comparative technique is a valuable analytic tool to illuminate this field. At the same time, the course pays attention to the importance of social, legal and historical context to the development of legal concepts and their impact.
The first half of the course approaches the subject thematically, while the second half of the course addresses individual grounds, ending with a consideration of remedial structures. Theory is integrated throughout the course, and the relationship between grounds of discrimination and other human rights is explored. The course will be predominantly based on materials from the US, Canada, South Africa, India, the UK, EU, and ECHR, although some materials from other Commonwealth countries or individual European countries will be included. International human rights instruments are also examined. Employment related discrimination is generally dealt with in the International and European Employment Law course. The course does not require previous knowledge of equality or discrimination law. Students are encouraged to participate in the activities of the Oxford Human Rights Hub, which is directed by Professor Fredman. Guest seminars organised by the Oxford Human Rights Hub take place on alternative Tuesdays at lunchtime during term time. The Hub website features daily blogs on cutting edge new developments in human rights and equality law, and students on the course are encouraged both to read and to contribute to the blog. The Hub also produces webinars and podcasts on pressing current issues in comparative human rights and equality law.
Human rights issues are both universal and contested. As human beings, we should all have human rights; yet there remains deep disagreement about the meaning and application of human rights. Courts in different jurisdictions face similar human rights questions; yet the answers often differ. At the same time, there is a growing transnational conversation between courts, with cases in one jurisdiction being discussed and cited in other jurisdictions. This course uses comparative methodology to examine the ways in which central human rights questions are addressed in different jurisdictions. On the one hand, the shared language of human rights suggests that there should be similar solutions to comparable problems. On the other hand, there are important differences between legal institutions, socio-economic development, history and culture.
The course involves a comparative study of key human rights issues, using the comparative method to highlight the key controversies in modern human rights law, and the possible range of responses in different jurisdictions. It examines material from Europe, North America, India and South Africa, drawing on other jurisdictions where relevant, as well as international and regional human rights instruments. The course begins with a theoretical framework and then draws on this framework to analyse the meaning of particular human rights, their significance in theory and in practice, and the efficacy of the legal institutions designed to protect them. The course critically examines the divide between civil and political rights and socio-economic rights, and aims to transcend the divide by incorporating both kinds of rights within a thematic whole. The course proceeds by way of in-depth study of specific rights in order to illustrate the complex interplay between theory, legal concepts and procedure, and between legal and non-legal sources of protection. It also examines the close connections between domestic and international human rights law. The course as a whole aims to provide the opportunity for in-depth comparative study, during which the appropriateness and utility of comparative legal techniques will be considered.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of theoretical concepts of human rights and of how those concepts relate to legal concepts and are applied in different jurisdictions.
Students are encouraged to participate in the activities of the Oxford Human Rights Hub, which is directed by Professor Fredman. Guest seminars organised by the Oxford Human Rights Hub take place on alternative Tuesdays at lunchtime during term time. The Hub website features daily blogs on cutting edge new developments in human rights and equality law, and students on the course are encouraged both to read and to write for the blog. The Hub also produces webinars and podcasts on pressing current issues in comparative human rights and equality law and will be launching its first online course on Strategic Litigation and the Right to Education this autumn.
Judicial protection against unlawful (and sometimes lawful) legislative and administrative acts or rules is of concern to individuals and companies in a variety of contexts. This course covers the central aspects of procedural and substantive judicial review under the public law of England, France and the European Union. The course will consider these issues against the constitutional framework which exists in the three systems. Throughout the course the emphasis will be on making comparisons between the different systems. To facilitate this each of the topics studied will be analysed within the same week's work.
The principal course objective is to enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the law in this area, and to be able to discuss at an advanced level elements of public law as they are evolving in England, France, and in the EU.
It is possible to undertake the course exclusively on the basis of English language materials, but the ability to read French is an advantage, since some of the secondary sources on French law are only available in the French language. There are, however, translations of the French case law used in the course.
Teaching is primarily through lectures and seminars. Tutorials will be available in Hilary and Trinity term. The structure of the course is as follows. In Michaelmas term and the first half of Hilary Term there will be lectures which deal with the central aspects of procedural and substantive review in the systems studied. The lectures are designed to lay the foundations for seminar discussion that will take place in the second half of Hilary term, and the first two weeks of Trinity term. The lectures and seminars will cover the following topics: the constitutional foundations of the three systems; procedural review; review for jurisdictional error; improper purposes; irrationality; proportionality; legitimate expectations; equality; and fundamental rights; damages actions, including damages for losses caused by lawful governmental action; standing and remedies.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of public law of England, France, and the EU within the context of their respective constitutions and a capacity to make comparisons between aspects of/developments in the law within each of these entities.
The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of this area of law, together with the ability to subject it to critical legal and economic analysis. The course aims to cover the main substantive laws relating to competition within the EC, including the control of monopoly and oligopoly; merger control; anti-competitive agreements; and other anti-competitive practices.
The emphasis is placed predominantly on EU competition law to reflect the importance it assumes in practice. UK competition law is also taught, both because of its value in providing a comparative study of two systems of competition law and because of its importance to the UK practitioner. The antitrust laws of the USA and competition laws of other jurisdictions are also referred to by way of comparison.
Visiting speakers: There is a programme of visiting speakers details of which are found on the CCLP website.
Learning outcomes: a comprehensive understanding of the core principles of Competition Law and its application in the EU, UK and elsewhere. At the end of the course, students should be able to critically reflect upon the law, economic and legal principles underpinning competition law enforcement.
The Conflict of Laws, or Private International Law, is concerned with private (mainly commercial) law cases, where the facts which give rise to litigation contain one or more foreign elements. A court may be asked to give relief for breach of a commercial contract made abroad, or to be performed abroad, or to which one or both of the parties is not English. It may be asked to grant relief in respect of an alleged tort occurring abroad, or allow a claimant to trace and recover funds which were fraudulently removed, and so on. In each case, the court must decide whether to apply laws of English or foreign origin to determine the matters in dispute. This exercise in identifying the law applicable is the second of three areas around which this course in the Conflict of Laws is centred. Prior to this comes the issue of jurisdiction; that is, when an English court will find that it has, and will exercise, jurisdiction over a defendant who is not English, or over a dispute which may have little to do with England or with English law. Closely allied to this is the question of what, if anything, may be done to impede proceedings which are underway in a foreign court but which (in the view of one of the parties or of the court) really should not be there at all. The remaining third of the course is concerned with the recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments, to determine what effect, if any, these have in the English legal order.
In England, the subject has had an increasingly European dimension, not only in relation to the jurisdiction of courts and the recognition and enforcement of judgements but also for choice of law as it applies to contractual and non-contractual obligations.
The purpose of the course is to examine the areas studied by reference to case law and statute, and to aim at acquiring an understanding of the rules, their operation and inter-relationship, as would be necessary to deal with problems arising in practice in litigation with a cross border element. Those taking the course will gain an understanding of the concepts and practical applications of private international law as it applies in legal systems around the world.
Constitutional Principles of the EU
The purpose of this course is to provide an advanced understanding of the constitutional questions of the EU. We pose the general question whether the law of the European Union can make sense as a coherent order of principles. The subject matter is EU Law as it stands today, in light of the case law of the European Court of Justice and general principles at can be borrowed from domestic constitutional theory or public international law. The readings will constitute mostly of cases of the ECJ and opinions of the Advocate General, combined with some cases from the United Kingdom and suitable readings in law and jurisprudence. Topics will include the nature of the EU as a constitutional state in the making or a sui generis international organisation; the ECJ doctrine of the ‘autonomy’ of EU law; the principle of direct effect; the principle of supremacy; non-discrimination; citizenship; human rights; remedies and procedural autonomy. We shall discuss the diverse approaches in the works of scholars such as Lenaerts, Von Bogdandy, Kumm, Habermas, Weiler, MacCormick, Wyatt, Weatherill, Craig, Hartley, Kirchoff and others. We shall also examine the constitutional implications of the Eurozone crisis and its aftermath.
The course is concerned with the theory of the nature, authority and legitimacy of constitutions. Topics include the historical origins and development of constitutional concepts; methods of separating the powers of governmental agencies; the ideal of the rule of law; institutional consequences of theories of democracy; the structure and function of legislatures and techniques for limiting their powers; the role of courts in review of legislation and executive action; the structure and operation of executive agencies; the framing and interpretation of written constitutions; the role of citizens and institutions in times of constitutional emergency; the nature and appropriate constitutional protection of basic rights; federalism and the constitutional implications of multiculturalism.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the theory of the nature, authority and legitimacy of constitutions.
The course analyses policy and legal issues revolving around corporate control, taking into account the latest developments (technological and other). It includes a theoretical analysis of the issues as well as illustrations of solutions found in major jurisdictions.
The course first looks into the relevance of ownership structures and control in public corporations, the empirical evidence on the various forms of control and the implications for corporate governance and societal welfare of having a prevalence of listed companies with dispersed ownership as opposed to companies with controlling shareholders. It then examines the various actions and transactions that can be used to replace corporate controllers, with or without their consent.
The limited company is a hugely popular business vehicle, and the primary reason for this is its ability to act as a successful vehicle for raising business finance and diversifying financial risk. All companies need to raise money in order to function successfully. It is these "money matters" which are at the heart of corporate law, and an understanding of the ways in which companies can raise money, and the manner in which their money-raising activities are regulated, is central to an understanding of how companies function. The aims of the course are (a) to explain the complex statutory provisions governing the issue and marketing of corporate securities, against the background of business transactions; (b) to explore the fundamental legal propositions around which corporate finance transactions are usually organised and (c) to examine the means by which money is raised by borrowing and quasi-debt and different methods of securing debt obligations. Technical issues will therefore be placed in their economic and business context. There is a strong emphasis on the policy issues underlying the legal rules. The course focuses on the forms of corporate finance and on the structure and regulation of capital markets. The course also examines the attributes of the main types of securities issued by companies and the legal doctrines which are designed to resolve the conflicts of interests between shareholders and creditors. Consideration is given to the EU directives affecting the financial markets, especially the manner in which they have been implemented into English law. Many of the issues arising are of international importance and the course examines the harmonisation of these matters within the EU.
This course will be of interest to any student wishing to develop a knowledge of corporate law, as well as to those who are corporate finance specialists. No prior knowledge of the subject is required, nor is it necessary to have studied company law, though this will be of significant advantage. Those with no knowledge of company law will need to do some additional background reading prior to the start of seminars, and advice can be given on this issue.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the means by which companies raise money and the laws which govern those activities.
The insolvency of a company gives rise to a number of fascinating questions. Why are formal (state-supplied) procedures needed for the treatment of distressed companies? When should such procedures be triggered, and for whose benefit should they be conducted? To what extent should they be geared towards the rescue of the company or its business? What rights should those to whom the company is indebted - its creditors - have over the conduct of the proceedings? In what order of priority should their claims be paid? How should the managers of the distressed company be dealt with, in and outside of formal insolvency proceedings? In this course, students explore these questions in three ways: first, by reading and evaluating theoretical and empirical literature on the purpose and design of corporate insolvency laws in general; second, by a close study of the formal insolvency and restructuring procedures available under English law, considering their operation in both purely domestic cases and in those with one or more cross-border elements; third, by exploring some of the core features of the insolvency laws of other jurisdictions, with a view to evaluating the procedures available under English law from a comparative and functional perspective.
Students taking the course can thus expect to acquire:
- an advanced understanding of English corporate insolvency law;
- knowledge of some of the core features of the corporate insolvency laws of other jurisdictions, including US, German and French law;
- knowledge of the core features of European corporate cross-border insolvency law (particularly the European Insolvency Regulation), as well as of other legal rules that influence the treatment of cross-border insolvencies in English courts;
- advanced understanding of seminal literature on the purpose and design of corporate insolvency laws, and the ability to draw on this literature to critique the laws studied in the course, or any other corporate insolvency system.
Many students taking the course intend to embark upon or continue a career in corporate or commercial law, where an advanced understanding of English corporate insolvency law (on which the insolvency laws of many other jurisdictions are modeled) is particularly valuable. However the course has also proven to be of interest to students who are interested more generally in understanding the purposes of mandatory corporate law rules, and their impact on the cost and availability of finance. No prior knowledge of corporate insolvency law is required, nor is it necessary to have studied company law, though the latter is of some advantage.
Are multi-national companies escaping taxation through artificial tax planning, transfer mis-pricing and profit shifting? Where should they be paying tax and on what basis? Should we abolish corporation tax altogether and find some other way to tax business?
Recent action by the G20, OECD, and EU, prompted by debates in the media, by politicians and pressure groups, illustrates that tax is not just a technical area. It raises ethical, political, constitutional and economic questions of fundamental importance. But it is also an area where lack of understanding of the underlying law can result in distorted policy discussions.
This course looks at both the law and the policy aspects of taxation and brings them together to create a more complete understanding of both. Tax law is central to all businesses and of significance to many business transactions. It is also critical for public finance. The course focuses on the taxation of domestic and multi-national businesses and integrates a rigorous examination of the law with the economic and other questions underpinning and arising from it. It uses UK tax law as a starting point and for case studies leading to comparative and theoretical discussions.
The course is thus suitable both for those with an interest in these broad questions as well as those wishing to specialise in and become tax or corporate law practitioners. This is a law course so no maths is needed- no calculations! It is designed to accommodate students from a variety of backgrounds and jurisdictions, whether or not they have studied tax before. Students with knowledge of taxation in the UK or other jurisdictions are encouraged to introduce material into seminars upon which we build, but others will bring other perspectives.
The course is suitable for BCL, MJur and MLF students and can be taken successfully with a range of different courses. No prior study of tax law, company law or economics is required.. Students will need to read many types of material and consider how policy issues and technical law interact. UK tax law is statute based, so legislation must be studied, and also case law . Readings from public finance and accounting literature will be recommended on some topics: these will be accessible without specialist knowledge. In 2017-18 the intention is to provide a pack of legislative materials so there will be no need to buy legislation books.
The syllabus is wide and the subject fast moving, so the precise focus may vary from year to year. The examination format allows students to focus on areas and approaches that interest them, although the entire course must be studied to gain a complete overview and understanding.
The teaching consists of seminars spread over Michaelmas and Hilary terms (with one or two in Trinity). Some will include presentations from teachers and others will be more participatory, with notice given so that all can take part. Guest lectures will be given by distinguished practitioners and academics. Most materials are available electronically. Background reading is recommended (see introductory list on Weblearn) and more detailed lists will be posted on Weblearn as the course proceeds. There are four tutorials given by the three course lecturers - one in MT and three later in the year. Written work is set and marked for each tutorial.Learning outcomes: a technical and contextual policy understanding of the taxation of domestic incorporated and unincorporated businesses and multi-national corporations
This course adopts a comparative and normative approach to human rights, criminal justice and security. It covers the development of human rights principles in relation to the criminal justice system and security more broadly (with a particular reference to counter-terrorism), in a range of relevant jurisdictions (inter alia: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Kenya, India, Israel, UK, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Union, and the Inter-American Court). After beginning with a general look at the themes of national security, rights balancing and exceptionalism theory, the course examines a number of discrete topics in terms of the theoretical underpinnings of the particular right, the reasoning adopted by the courts, and the implications for criminal justice and security policy.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of human rights issues in the context of the criminal justice system and the pursuit of national security.
A BCL, MJur or MLF student can offer a dissertation, in lieu of one law option. The dissertation must be written in English. It must not exceed 12,500 words which includes notes, but which does not include tables of cases or other legal sources. The subject must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. The Committee will take account of the subject matter and the availability of appropriate supervision. Candidates must submit the proposed title and description of the dissertation in not more than 500 words, not later than Monday, Week Minus Two of Michaelmas Term to the Academic Administrator (Paul Burns).
You should be aware that the demand for supervision for such dissertations may exceed the supply, especially from particular Faculty members, and where this is the case a potential supervisor may elect to supervise only those dissertations which he or she judges most promising. Although in principle the option of offering a dissertation is open to all BCL, MJur and MLF students, therefore, in practice it is possible that some students who wish to offer a dissertation will be unable to do so, as a suitable supervisor with spare capacity cannot be found.
The dissertation (two copies) must be delivered to the Clerk of the Examination Schools for the attention of the Chairman of the BCL and MJur Examiners, or the Chairman of the MLF Examiners, as appropriate. It must arrive not later than noon on the Friday of fifth week of the Trinity Full Term in which the examination is to be taken.
The topic of your dissertation may (and often will) be within the area of one or more of your taught courses, and/or in an area which you have studied previously. But any part of the dissertation which you have previously submitted or intend to submit in connection with any other degree must be excluded from consideration by the BCL, MJur and MLF Examiners.
Although BCL students cannot take the List III courses, they are allowed to offer a dissertation within these fields. BCL students may offer a dissertation which does not fall into the field of any BCL course, if a suitable supervisor within the Faculty can be found. Candidates for the MJur will not normally be given approval to do a dissertation on a subject which falls within List I (those subjects which entail an advanced knowledge of the common law).
This course examines the legal basis of the "level playing field" of the internal market of the European Union, covering the law of free movement across borders (goods, establishment and services), as well as competence to regulate the internal market, with special reference to the function of harmonisation of laws.
Learning outcomes: to enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of the law in relation to the above subject matter, and to be able to discuss critically at an advanced level the legal and policy issues arising therefrom - including in particular the relationship between the judicial and the legislative contributions to the making of the EU's internal market.
European Private Law: Tort is concerned with the comparative study of tort/delict within a European framework. The so-called Europeanisation of private law has two dimensions. One concerns the implications of existing legislation and case-law emanating from the organs of the EU for national private laws (eg product liability (Dir 85/374), environmental liability (Dir 2004/35), liability of the Member States and the non-contractual liability of the European Union). The other is of a scholarly nature and relates to various academic proposals for common European rules and principles in the area of private law based on comparative research: the European Group on Tort Law and the Study Group on a European Civil Code have both independently from another introduced proposals for restatements of European tort law.
This course examines how the idea of human rights guides, constitutes, and regulates the legal rules and standards governing employment and work. This examination of the foundation of labour law in human rights is intended to consider the need to guarantee basic protections for workers against the pressures arising from various aspects of globalisation.
The human rights to be considered are found in (a) international law such as the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO’s Declaration of the Fundamental Rights of Workers; (b) the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and other measures of EU law; (c) the treaties of the Council of Europe including the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Social Charter; (d) the Human Rights Act 1998 in the United Kingdom; and (e) occasional comparisons with the judicial interpretation of the fundamental rights protected in the constitutions of nation states.
The course also critically examines the various mechanisms for protecting these rights, which range from judicial enforcement of directly enforceable rights, through international conventions, to self-regulation through corporate codes of conduct.
The human rights to be considered during the course will include: freedom of association, the right to strike, the right to privacy, freedom of religion, freedom from slavery, forced labour and trafficking, the right to work, job security and property rights in jobs, and equality rights across various grounds including sex, race, age, disability, sexual orientation and religion. These rights will be studied in depth to illustrate the complex interplay between international, European, and national norms, and between various forms and sources of protection.
Learning outcomes: students will acquire a knowledge of the human rights found in international and transnational laws and standards that are applicable to employment and the workplace, and the institutions and enforcement mechanisms that protect those labour rights; students will learn about the strengths and weakness of reliance on human rights law for the protection of labour standards and workers’ interests.
The course does not presuppose that students should have taken an undergraduate labour law or employment law course. Nor does it presuppose that students should have studied human rights law, international law or EU law. The course will be taught in a varied format, including seven seminars in Michaelmas Term and seven in Hilary Term. There will be tutorials to back up the seminars, each student receiving to up to four tutorials from a wide menu. These tutorials are offered throughout the academic year, in order to give practice in writing essays in this subject.
Any students who would like to discuss this course further are encouraged to contact one of the members of the teaching group.
This half-option is concerned with how the law seeks to incentivise innovation. There is an emerging awareness among intellectual property scholars that we need to stop looking at the patent system in isolation. We need to understand how the IP system relates to other policy interventions that are designed to incentivise innovation, including R&D tax credits and innovation prizes and rewards. Faced with problems like climate change, antimicrobial resistance and sluggish economic growth, it is more important than ever that we get innovation policy right and this requires working beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. The course will provide you not merely with a solid understanding of the patent system, but also how this system fits within a broader innovation policy landscape. This half-option is distinctive of IP at Oxford and forms part of our commitment to rethinking how the subject is conceptualised, researched and taught.
Learning outcomes: a critical understanding of innovation as a contested concept; a good grasp of patent law, including controversial topics like ‘evergreening’ and the role of non-practising entities (‘patent trolls’); awareness of the potential and limitations of other policy interventions as mechanisms for incentivising innovation; an introduction to debates around innovation, short-termism and models of corporate governance.
The course in Intellectual Property Law covers all the main forms of intellectual property (principally, copyright, trade mark and unfair competition, and patent). It explores the theoretical foundations of and justification for the different rights as well as their application in a number of settings. Intellectual property industries now make up a sizable proportion of the global economy. And the most contested issues in intellectual property law are closely connected to developments throughout the arts and technology, as well as to evolutions in marketing and popular culture. Thus the course will be of interest to students from a number of backgrounds and with a variety of interests. In the United Kingdom, intellectual property law is increasingly Europeanised, so we necessarily examine the European instruments and case law that shape UK law. And because the content of intellectual property law is increasingly framed by international obligations and evolves with some regard to developments in other countries, the course also has an international and comparative dimension.
The course is suitable for students with or without undergraduate experience of IP law. Knowledge of the common law is not required.
It is taught by Dr Justine Pila and Dr Dev Gangjee in a series of seminars in Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Teaching is through sixteen seminars and four tutorials.
Reading lists are posted using Canvas.
Learning outcomes: a knowledge of theoretical foundations of property law, including copyright, patent, trade mark, unfair competition and trade secrets; and an understanding of the practical applications of intellectual property rights in various contexts.
In a world of increasing global trade and commerce, arbitration has become the preferred mechanism for resolving transnational commercial disputes. As global transactions have expanded, they also have become more complex. Scholars, arbitrators and courts around the globe have developed highly sophisticated solutions to respond to these challenges, making international commercial arbitration one of the most fascinating developments in the law. The course will study international commercial arbitration within its international and national legal frameworks.
Starting with the study of international instruments such as the New York Convention, the course will then examine how different national legal systems have treated international commercial arbitration. The course aims to focus on a comparison of the approaches taken by US courts and the national courts of Europe. International commercial arbitration often exposes marked differences between the common and the civil law, yet the body of law being created in common and civil law jurisdictions forms an arbitral ‘ius commune’ – a common body of a globally applicable international arbitration law. In order to explore the real or perceived advantages of international commercial arbitration over transnational litigation, the course intends to examine the problems commonly associated with transnational litigation such as service of process, jurisdiction, lis pendens and recognition of judgments. Moreover, the course aspires to introduce the theoretical foundations of international commercial arbitration and to discuss the repercussions international commercial arbitration may have for national legal orders. The course will cover every stage in an arbitral proceeding from the arbitration agreement, the arbitral proceeding to the arbitral award and its recognition and enforcement.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the way international commercial arbitration applies across both common and civil law jurisdictions and knowledge of the theoretical foundations of this body of law and its potential advantages over transnational litigation.
One of the most significant developments in international law and international relations during the past quarter century has been the emergence of a new international legal order based on a robust concept of international criminal justice. With the establishment of a number of international and hybrid national-international criminal courts to try those accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and other violations of international law, the international community has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring accountability and upholding the rule of law. At the same time, when and how international criminal law is enforced, the role of international justice in relation to ongoing conflicts and post-conflict societies, and the future of international criminal justice remain the subject of intense debate. This seminar will provide a historical perspective on the rise of international criminal justice as well as an overview of a number of discrete topics in international criminal law and justice, including the bodies of law applied in international criminal tribunals, the challenges involved in creating a functioning and effective international criminal justice system, and key developments in international criminal law. The focus of the seminar will be on the work of the first two international criminal courts of the modern era, the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, and less on the permanent International Criminal Court. The International Criminal Court will form a subject of a few seminars but its jurisprudence is still too limited for us to focus upon. The course will consist of both subject and case discussion of jurisprudence on genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and modes of liability.
These seminars will start with discussion of the principal historical and topical development of international criminal law combined, wherever possible, with the principal case law. As we proceed, more and more time will be devoted to the discussion of case law/jurisprudence. Students will be lead discussants of topics and cases and are kindly requested to select cases and topics for their presentations as soon as possible.
All sources used are easily accessible on the Internet. Here are the principal non-case sources: Hague Convention No. IV on Laws and Customs of War on Land 1907, Nuremberg Charter 1945, Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, 1949, Nos. III and IV, and Additional Protocols I and II to the Geneva Conventions, 1977.
The Statutes of the ICTY and the ICTR and listed previsions of the ICC Statute are required reading. It is recommended that these materials as well as the common clauses of the Geneva Conventions listed below in this syllabus and Additional Protocols I and II be read before the seminar or during the early stages of the seminar.
The classes will be given mostly every second week of each term as listed herewith. Fridays, 11 am-1 pm; Mondays, 11 am-1 pm. All classes will be given in the Old Library in All Souls.
The course on International Dispute Settlement is concerned with the peaceful settlement of international disputes, including inter-State disputes, and disputes between States and individuals or corporations.
The first part of the course is dedicated to the study of a range of methods of and institutions concerned with dispute settlement such as arbitral tribunals, the International Court of Justice, and more specialised bodies such as the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, the World Trade Organisation, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, and other institutions. The institutions selected for study vary from year to year.
The second part of the course provides an outline of the principles of procedural law that operate in international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice and international arbitral tribunals. This part of the course involves the study of issues such as jurisdiction and admissibility, the determination of law governing procedure and the law governing the merits of a case, remedies, and the recognition and enforcement of judgments and arbitral awards.
Learning outcomes: a knowledge of the methods of and the institutions concerned with the settlement of international disputes, and the procedural laws which govern their activities.
This course introduces students to the principles and institutions of international economic law. It focuses primarily on the institutions and substantive law of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), including notably the WTO dispute settlement mechanism and its substantive jurisprudence, and the main WTO Agreements, including those dealing with goods (GATT), services (GATS), the environment, subsidies, intellectual property rights, and other WTO agreements that are indispensable for a knowledge of the theory and practice (by governments, corporations, NGOS, and lawyers) of the subject area. In addition to introducing participants to the major legal disciplines under the GATT/WTO and the basic principles and cores concepts of the GATT/WTO (based on in-depth study of the relevant GATT/WTO case law), the course considers the underlying philosophy of free trade and a number of the controversies concerning the future evolution of the WTO and its relationship to globalisation, regionalism, and the attempt by States to achieve other policy objectives (such as protection of the environment).
The course also examines aspects of international investment arbitration, especially compared to WTO dispute settlement.
No prior knowledge of international law or economics is necessary. Students without such knowledge will be directed to basic reading in these fields.
Learning outcomes are an understanding of the philosophy of free trade and the law of the WTO, and the institutions responsible for its governance (including WTO dispute settlement).
This course examines a range of international law issues that arise in relation to armed conflict. The course will be divided into four parts.
The first part of the course will consider the international legal issues relating to whether and when States are entitled to use armed force. In this part of the course, we will examine the prohibition of the use of force contained in the UN Charter as well as the principle of non-intervention in the affairs of other States. We will also devote considerable attention to the exceptions to the exceptions to the prohibition on the use of force, in particular, the right of self-defence in international law. Questions to be considered include the criteria for a lawful response in self-defence, the scope of the right of self defence in response to attacks by non-State groups, and the legality of anticipatory/pre-emptive self defence. This part of the course will also consider other possible exceptions to the prohibition on the use of force such as protection of nationals abroad, as well as the doctrines of humanitarian intervention and responsibility to protect.
The second part of the course considers the use of force within the scheme for collective security set up by the UN Charter – We will examine the powers of the Security Council to authorize the use of force by states and to establish peace-keeping operations.
The third part of the course examines international humanitarian law, i.e, the law that applies during an armed conflict. We will address the distinction between the law applicable in international armed conflicts and that applicable in non-international armed conflicts. We also consider the extent to which transnational violence between States and non-State groups should be considered an armed conflict to which international humanitarian law applies. In this part, we will explore both the “Geneva law” relating to the humanitarian protection of victims of war and the “Hague law” relating to the means and methods of warfare. In particular, we will examine the law relating to the detention, prosecution and treatment of combatants and civilians and in situations of armed conflict. We then turn to the law that applies to the conduct of hostilities, examining in particular the rules relating to targeting and to weaponry.
The fourth and final part of the course will consider the extent to which international human rights law applies in time of armed conflict, the relationship between human rights and international humanitarian law, and questions of responsibility for violations of human rights or humanitarian law. In considering issues of responsibility, we will focus on how questions of responsibility arise and are determined in cases where operations conducted by state agents are authorized by, or carried out as part of the activities, of an international organization (the UN, NATO, etc). Is the international organization responsible, is the state responsible or is there a shared responsibility?
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the laws which determine whether and when States are entitled to use armed force, and which apply during an armed conflict (including international human rights law).
The oceans are critical to State interests and human prosperity, being a highway for commerce, a shared resource and a conduit for threats to security. They cover 70% of the earth’s surface, account for 90% of the world’s international trade and provide 40% of the protein consumed in the developing world.
In this context, the law of the sea is assuming a new prominence in international affairs, from questions of environmental protection and offshore resource exploitation, to legal contests over polar resources and sea lanes rendered more accessible by global warming, and even regarding the risk of maritime terrorism and smuggling weapons of mass destruction. This course will approach the law of the sea in the context of these new developments and concerns. It provides a comprehensive grounding in the subject, combining the study of maritime zones (such as the territorial sea, Exclusive Economic Zone, Continental Shelf and High Seas), with the study of the main bodies of law regulating users of the seas (such as navigation, fishing, pollution and military activities). It also aims to enhance general international law knowledge as the teaching relates the problems of the law of the sea to other relevant areas of general international law, including sources, the law of treaties, and principles of state responsibility.
The teaching consists of weekly two hour seminars in the Michaelmas and Hilary terms. In Trinity term, there is one two-hour revision seminar, one three-hour mock examination class, and one two-hour examination feedback class.
Learning outcomes: to understand the core principles, law, and institutions of the international law of the sea and to place this legal framework in its policy context; to be able to approach critically and analytically the rules, policies, and principles of this area of international law; and to be able to identify and resolve legal problems involving the public international law of the sea.
This course explores a range of topics in legal and political philosophy. These include the concept and the nature of law; the explanation of legal rights and obligations; the normative significance of institutional actions and practices; the question whether the law has an essential function or purpose; the relation of legality to the use of organized force; the individual’s moral duties that obtain because of the law; the individual’s moral rights against his or her government; and the nature and justification of political authority. Key political ideas, including equality, liberty, and autonomy, are also included, as are questions about the nature and source of reasons and the character of philosophical explanation. Discussion of these topics strives for analytical precision, and often proceeds by critically examining advanced work in progress by members of faculty and others. (Much of Dworkin’s Law’s Empire, Raz’s The Morality of Freedom, and Finnis’s Aquinas, was earlier presented and discussed in this course’s seminars.)
The seminars do not necessarily cover all of the topics mentioned in the syllabus, and of those covered some may be covered in much greater depth than others. Nevertheless the syllabus gives a good general indication of the field to which the seminars and the eventual list of examination essay topics relate.
The course is a philosophy course, and in that sense is a specialist rather than a generalist pursuit. Through it students may expect to develop some of the skills and dispositions of professional philosophers. An acquaintance with some undergraduate-level jurisprudence is presupposed; those who enter on this course without having formally studied jurisprudence may prepare themselves by reading some of the following or comparable works: Hart, The Concept of Law, Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously or Law’s Empire, Raz, The Authority of Law. But this list should not lead anyone to think that, in the course itself, the topics to be discussed are narrowly ‘jurisprudential’ or that the authors to be read are narrowly ‘Oxford’. Students with an Oxford Jurisprudence background, and others, could prepare for the course by careful reading of (for example) Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Dworkin, Justice for Hedgehogs, Raz, The Morality of Freedom, or Nagel, Equality and Partiality.
Seminars specifically designed for students on this course are regularly convened by Professors J Dickson, T A O Endicott, P Eleftheriadis, J M Finnis, J Gardner, L Green, A M Honore, and N Stavropoulos. However, those taking the paper are also encouraged to participate in seminars and lectures taking place elsewhere in the university, particularly in some of those advertised on the Philosophy Lecture List. Those who are not conversant with the basics of political philosophy, in particular, should consider whether to attend lectures on the undergraduate courses in Ethics (see the Philosophy Lecture List) and the Theory of Politics (see the Politics Lecture List). Lectures from the undergraduate Jurisprudence course in the Law Faculty would also help those who need to be more familiar with the basics of legal philosophy.
This course is among those supported with detailed material on the Legal Philosophy in Oxford website.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of fundamental questions concerning the nature of law and key ideas in political theory; a capacity to approach legal and political issues from a philosophical perspective.
This course, jointly offered by the Law Faculty and the Department of Computer Science, will introduce students from both backgrounds to the terrain at the boundaries of their two disciplines. The overarching theme is understanding law and computer science at their intersection.
This course offers an in-depth study of core areas of family, property, and obligations law in later thirteenth and early fourteenth century England and their relationships - through legislative and judicial change and legal writing - to the medieval society of which they were part.
The materials studied are statutes, case reports, and treatises and instructional literature from the period, together with the modern academic literature on the topics. All the sources used are provided in translation, so that knowledge of Latin and French is not required. Prior knowledge of the history of English law is not required.
Considering law in society means asking a number of questions: What does law do? Where does it come from? What forms does it take? How do we understand its meaning and significance? Socio-legal scholars discuss the role of law in providing stability to private relations, law as the foundation of social order, and law as an instrument for directing society and solving social issues. They also investigate the social origins of different laws. Anthropologists may be more interested in the forms that law takes, and matters of meaning and symbolism. Asking these questions ultimately leads scholars to address the issue (whether explicitly or implicitly) of what law is. Using empirical studies as the basis for such enquiries is what largely distinguishes these projects from those of legal philosophers.
The first part of the course (4 weeks in MT) introduces some of the main sociological thinkers to have addressed these questions, including Durkheim (the notion of law as a mirror of social life and the basis of social solidarity), Weber (law as an instrument of the ruler), as well as Hart (and what he calls ’descriptiveliving sociology’). We will use case studies, along with the writings of more recent scholars, to assess the relevance of their approaches for contemporary scholarship and social issues.
The second part of the course (8 weeks in HT) uses anthropological and historical case studies to address the same questions. The focus is largely on understanding the different systems of law found in other societies and historical periods. How are we to approach the laws and legal processes of non-literate societies, for example, or the codes of medieval European kings, or the feuding relations of contemporary Tibetan pastoralists? What do they mean and do, and where do they come from? On what grounds can we even define them as ‘law’? We also consider contemporary studies on the western world, including research on court use, the appeal of human rights, and new forms of transnational law. The diversity of such cases challenges us to ask what unites them as examples of law. Studying what is unfamiliar can help us to reflect on the parameters and cultural specificity of our own concepts of law, and students will be encouraged to think constructively and critically about familiar legal phenomena and their universal application.
Learning outcomes: a conceptual understanding of the role law plays within society and its relations with other aspects of society (attained through study of the relevant scholarship in this area); and an understanding of how these issues play out in a variety of societal contexts.
Environmental law is the law of environmental problems. As issues such as climate change, air quality and the VW emissions scandal highlight, environmental problems raise operational and conceptual challenges for governments, businesses and communities. These challenges are often centre stage and not easily contained or managed. The failure to adequately deal with environmental problems has been disastrous for communities, businesses and governments.
Having legal expertise in environmental law matters, but environmental problems involve a level of complexity lawyers are not often used to. They involve many different people, changing physical conditions, a range of different socio-political values, and knowledge of them is often limited. Traditional legal doctrines and concepts have not been developed with problems like this in mind. As this is the case, environmental law has evolved as a complex body of law at the national and international level through adapting legal ideas and developing new concepts to respond to these problems.
This course aims to foster legal expertise in this area through a comparative study of environmental law techniques. Particular attention is given to: understanding environmental problems and the types of legal issues they give rise to; developing skills in navigating environmental legislation and case law; developing an appreciation for the interaction between local, national, international and transnational regimes; and developing a sophisticated appreciation for legal reasoning in this area.
This course will be of interest to: students who are wanting to deepen their environmental law knowledge through in-depth comparative study; students exploring law and society interrelationships; and students who want to develop their skills for dealing with environmental law in different areas of legal practice. No prior knowledge is needed to do the course.
The purpose of this course is to explore the most significant legal concepts and private law issues encountered in commercial finance and in commercial and investment banking. This is particularly topical, as many of these issues have been brought into sharp focus by the recent financial crisis.
Students will be introduced to the various concepts in contract, property and fiduciary law which are used to allocate, manage and transfer risk in transactions on capital markets and in commercial banking. They will also be invited to consider the legal nature of property, money and payment, and the conceptual basis for corporate personality and limited liability. By examining a range of transactions, and critically considering relevant case law and legislation in the light of market practice, this course will provide a deep understanding of the part that private law plays in the operation of financial markets. Transactional structures covered will include loans, guarantees, documentary credits and first demand bonds, security, debt issues on the capital markets (and other intermediated securities), derivatives and structured finance.
The focus will be on English law, although the law of other jurisdictions (particularly common law jurisdictions) will be studied where appropriate for criticism and comparison. Whilst the course will primarily be a doctrinal law course, involving close study of cases and legislation and analysis of their underlying principles, the reading lists will contain a significant amount of secondary material examining wider policy issues, different theoretical approaches and possible legal reform.
The course will be taught in twelve sets of lectures and seminars, and four tutorials. Teaching will be by Professor Ewan McKendrick QC (Hon) FBA, Professor Andreas Televantos and Visiting Professor Mr Richard Salter QC, with input from others practising in this area of law.
Learning outcomes: a knowledge of some of the more topical and/or complex issues in the banking and financial field (the particular topics selected reflecting the research and professional interests of the teaching team) and a comprehensive understanding of the part that private law plays in the operation of financial markets.
The Medical Law and Ethics course provides students with the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of the legal and ethical difficulties that arise in the provision of health care. The primary focus will be on UK law, but the issues to be covered have global relevance and we encourage students to contribute insights from other jurisdictions wherever possible. Students must be prepared to read many types of material and to consider how legal, ethical and policy issues interact. There are no prerequisites for this course.
Learning outcomes: a critical understanding of the legal and ethical difficulties that arise in the provision of health care.
Topics to be covered include consent to treatment, abortion, ownership of body parts and organ donation, death and dying, medical negligence, and the legal regulation of human reproduction. As the course progresses, we will also encourage students to be aware of the current issues in medical research and healthcare provision that are being reported in the media.
This course examines the modern development of English law and the common-law tradition across three periods: the “long eighteenth century” (1688-1830s), the Victorian era (1830s-1900) and the early 20th century (1900-1950) It also encompasses comparative, imperial and international dimensions, looking far beyond the English legal world. The focus of enquiry will include doctrinal and juristic development, but also a good deal of social-scientific elements, with themes from economics, economic history, political economy, political science and sociology providing frameworks for analysis.
Students with strengths in common-law or civilian styles of doctrinal analysis and interpretation will be challenged to think as historians about continuity and change in the legal system, paying careful attention to the interplay of internal and external influences that have made the modern law. Students will learn varied topics across the course, but may also specialize in tutorials, essays and assessment exercises in certain concentrated fields within the course, eg corporate and commercial law; or obligations; or public law; or law of persons, etc.
Our guiding philosophy is that historical consciousness of the law creates intellectual freedom for modern lawyers to move beyond the bounds of contemporary thought, to develop a creative awareness of the sources, choices and potentials within the law, and going beyond the law itself, to wield the resources of historical jurisprudence as a metric to investigate the social world. These goals put us squarely within longstanding traditions of legal history as practised by Maine, Maitland, Pollock, Salmond, Holdsworth, Milsom, Simpson, Atiyah, Horwitz, Baker, Brand, and Ibbetson (eight of these twelve having a strong Oxford nexus).
The core group of teachers for this course are each researchers in modern legal history, and we aim to join this subject to the distinguished traditions of ancient, medieval and early modern legal history already well established at Oxford.
This course explores the philosophical principles which may be thought to underlie the major doctrines in each of the branches of the common law with which it is concerned – contract, tort, and the criminal law – as well as the relationships between them.
Do notions such as personal autonomy, causation, intention, justice, harm… (etc.), which figure in all three areas, lend them genuine doctrinal unity, or do these branches of the law represent different (complementary or conflicting) moral or political principles? For example: can one or other of them be understood as embodying principles of corrective justice, while the others are based on considerations of distributive justice? Does the law, in these areas, reflect moral concerns, pursues efficiency or some other goal, or is it the case that no underlying principles can be discerned? Are there interesting theoretical links between analogous doctrines or concepts to be found in these branches of the law, such as remedies, defences, excuses, freedom? -These are some of the issues explored in this course.
The course presupposes some knowledge of the basic doctrines of contract, tort, and criminal law, but not necessarily in much detail.
The main teaching is by seminars. Four tutorials are also provided, and these are arranged centrally via the seminars. The course is among those supported with detailed material on the Faculty's Jurisprudence website https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/research-and-subject-groups/legal-philosophy-oxford
Learning outcomes: a knowledge of the concepts underlying the principal areas of English common law, an understanding of relevant philosophical debate concerning those areas, and a theoretical overview of the common law as a whole.
The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the fundamental principles of Civil Procedure. These principles are not specific to England but are common to all advanced systems of law. The operation and implications of these principles is discussed against the background of English law and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. A short introduction to English civil procedure is provided so that students not familiar with the English system could soon acquire a working knowledge. However, students coming from other jurisdictions are encouraged to consider how the principles and the ideas discussed in classes apply to their own systems.
All classes involve active student participation. The course consists of approximately 1 lecture, 16 seminars (most of 2 hours duration), 4 guest seminars and 4 tutorials. The lecture and seminars are normally held in Michaelmas and Hilary Terms and the guest seminars in Trinity Term. The introductory lecture on the English civil justice system is given by Professor Stuart Sime, and the seminars will be principally given by Dr Higgins and Professor Zuckerman. Dr Ferguson gives seminars on ADR.
The guest seminars are given by visiting scholars, practitioners and judges from England and abroad in conjunction with Dr Higgins and Professor Zuckerman.
Tutorials are given in all three terms. Tutorials will be taken with Dr Higgins.
Learning outcomes: a comprehensive knowledge of the principles which underpin the laws governing the adjudication of civil lawsuits.
Financial regulation is subject to rapid change, and its optimal content is hotly debated. This course will introduce you to the underlying principles which various forms of financial regulation seek to implement. Students completing this course will be able to understand the regulatory goals of market efficiency, investor protection, the safety and soundness of financial institutions, and the promotion of financial stability and competition, along with the principal regulatory strategies that are employed to try to achieve these objectives in relation to financial markets and institutions.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the functions of the financial system and the primary financial markets and institutions through which these functions are performed; an understanding of the core principles and objectives which govern financial regulation; an understanding of the regulatory strategies for achieving these objectives and the policy debates that surround them; the capacity to assess critically new developments in financial regulation and their implementation in novel contexts.
This half-option focuses on the foundational concepts that underpin the intellectual property system; a system that James Boyle has described as providing ‘the legal form of the information age’. The course will be divided into two parts.
The first part will explore the foundational ideas that we use to justify affording exclusive rights over some forms of intellectual labour but not others. We look at concepts like ‘originality’ and ‘novelty’ as preconditions for protection, and consider the relationship between these ideas and whether they make sense. We explore why intellectual property scholars are concerned about so-called ‘overlaps’ (i.e. that some forms of intellectual labour may attract more than one form of protection) even though similar concerns do not feature prominently in other areas of the law. We also look at the different options for delineating the boundaries of protection: sometimes we rely on limits to the scope or duration of rights, whilst at other times we use exceptions or defences to preserve public interest values. Finally, we consider the relationship between intellectual property systems and private ordering: to what extent can social norms and contract substitute for intellectual property protection; conversely when and why do we allow intellectual property rules to trump freedom of contract.
The second part of the course identifies four lenses through which intellectual property law might be viewed. This reflects our overall aim of equipping you with the tools to analyse and critique intellectual property rights. For example, we look at whether it is accurate to describe intellectual property rights as a species of property, and what might be at stake in that debate. Many undergraduate intellectual property courses focus almost exclusively on domestic law; but to what extent are local laws influenced by international instruments, and how has the making and content of those instruments changed over time?
Learning outcomes: to provide a critical introduction to the principles that underpin the intellectual property system, suitable both for those who have studied IP before and those who are new to this branch of the law. To expose students to a series of ideas and ways of thinking about IP that will enhance their ability to engage in critical and normative analysis of this areas of the law.
The enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU as a binding treaty has provoked new questions about the relation between fundamental rights and the legal principles and rules elaborated in fields of private law, principally contract, tort, and property. Questions that have been raised include: Is private law based on or derived from fundamental rights? Can fundamental rights provide a source for new private law rights and obligations? Does the enactment of fundamental rights in a legal order collapse the distinction between public and private law, and if so, what are the consequences for theories of law? Do fundamental rights have the same meaning in a horizontal dispute between private parties? How should the fundamental rights of private parties be balanced against each other? As well as examining these broad questions, the course critically examines and assesses the case-law concerning the impact of fundamental rights on contract law, tort law, property law and other fields of private law. Cases and examples are drawn primarily from the common law in the UK and decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Human Rights, but selective comparisons from other jurisdictions are occasionally introduced.
Learning outcomes: the course will permit graduate students to draw on, develop, and deepen their existing knowledge of private law and constitutional or human rights law. It will require considerable previous knowledge in private law and fundamental rights law. It will build on that knowledge in part by combining or integrating it in a new way, but more fundamentally in offering a fresh perspective on these materials. The course will require both careful analysis of legal reasoning in case law, but also more jurisprudential reflection on the relation between private law and fundamental rights. Comparative law material (mostly from European countries and the EU itself) will provide additional perspectives.
The proposed course aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the theoretical underpinnings, justifications, and contemporary practices of punishment and security. The subject is approached from criminological, socio-legal, philosophical, and historical perspectives. The course explores the role of the state in the exercise of its most coercive functions against individual citizens – whether punishing those found guilty of criminal wrongdoing or taking security measures against those deemed to pose a risk to the safety of the public and the nation.
In Michaelmas Term it will focus on ‘why we punish’ by examining major debates in penal theory concerning the authority of the state to punish and the various justifications and rationales for punishment - not least desert theory and its critics, communicative and consequentialist theories. The second half of the term considers ‘how we punish’ by exploring diverse social, economic and political aspects of punishment and examining whether it is possible to do justice to difference.
In Hilary Term the focus shifts from punishment to the pursuit of security and critically examines what is meant by security (whether, for example, as pursuit, commodity, or public good). Successive seminars consider whether the growth of markets in private security and the development of communal and personal security provision evidence the fragmentation or dispersal of state power. They examine exercises in state sovereignty in the name of risk management, counterterrorism, and migration and border control. These reassertions of state power permit significant intrusions into individual freedom and the deployment of exceptional measures and the course will address important questions about the limits of legality and the balancing of liberty and security.
In Trinity Term two final seminars provide an opportunity for critical reflection and engagement with issues raised throughout the course. The first will examine the relationship between public and private security and consider the commodification of security and the second examines new technologies of crime control.
The course is normally taught by 12 seminars and 4 tutorials spread across Michaelmas and Hilary Terms (six seminars and two tutorials in each) with 2 further summative seminars in Trinity providing an opportunity for critical reflection on the whole course. The standard exam for the BCL (ie 3 hour closed book) will be set.
The focus of teaching will be the weekly seminar, which all those taking the course are required to attend. Students will be expected to read and think about the assigned materials in advance of the seminar. The seminar will be introduced by a Faculty member, followed by discussion around a set of questions distributed in advance. In addition, the Centre for Criminology organizes seminars during the academic year at which distinguished invited speakers discuss current research or major issues of policy. This programme is advertised on the Centre's website and all students are encouraged to attend.
Learning outcomes: an in-depth understanding of the theoretical underpinnings, justifications, and contemporary practices of punishment and security.
Regulation is at the core of how modern states seek to govern the activities of individual citizens as well as corporate and governmental actors. Broadly defined it includes the use of legal and non-legal techniques to manage social and economic risks. While regulation is traditionally associated with prescriptive law, public agencies and criminal as well as administrative sanctions, the politics of the shrinking state and deregulation have meant that intrusive and blunt forms of legal regulation have given way at times to facilitative, reflexive and procedural law which seeks to balance public and private interests in regulatory regimes. Enduring policy debates address whether there is actually too much, too little or the wrong type of regulation in different policy areas.
This course examines what role different forms of law play in contemporary regulatory regimes. It thereby analyses how legal regulation constructs specific relationships between law and society and how legal regulation is involved in mediating conflicts between private and public power.
The first section of the course critically examines key conceptual approaches for understanding regulation. How can economic reasoning be employed in order to justify legal regulation? Does a focus on institutions help to understand the operation of regulatory regimes? What rationalities, and hence ‘governmentalities’ are involved in regulating through law? What role do emotions, such as trust in experts, play in regulatory interactions?
The second section of the course examines specific regulatory regimes ‘in action’ against the background of the conceptual frameworks explored in the first section. In 2019-20, only the second stream of this section is being offered. The focus of this stream is on technology, and the regulatory regimes devised and adapted to meet the challenges created by developing digital and bio technologies specifically. The aim in studying these regimes is to generate insights about the different roles and expectations of law and other regulatory mechanisms, such as the market and social norms, and their capacity to function effectively and appropriately in the radically changing socio-economic environment of the current technological age.
The course thus provides an opportunity for students to examine the pervasive phenomenon of regulation with reference to different disciplinary perspectives, in particular law, sociology, politics and economics and to gain detailed knowledge of substantive regulatory law in relation to cutting-edge technological developments. It should appeal to those interested in the theory and practice of regulation, jurisprudence, new technologies, and the substantive legal fields of intellectual property, privacy and data protection, liability, competition, supranationalism, and fundamental rights.
Relationship to “Law and Computer Science” option
Regulation differs from the BCL/MJur “Law and Computer Science” option in its focus on regulation and legal solutions to the challenges created by digital and bio technologies rather than, as for Law and Computer Science, the effects of digital technology on the nature of legal work and how lawyers and computer scientists can work together to devise technical solutions to deal with them. The options will not overlap and may therefore be taken together.
The course is taught through weekly two-hour seminars - which provide opportunities for active student participation – over Michaelmas and Hilary terms. Four tutorials spread over Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity terms will also support students’ exam preparation. The 3 hour written examination at the end of the course involves essay questions in relation to the theoretical approaches to regulation discussed in MT as well as the ‘law and technology’ case studies examined during HT. No prior knowledge of law in the fields discussed in Hilary Term is required to take this course.
The convenor of the course is Dr Bettina Lange and the course is taught by a small group of faculty members led in 2019 and 2020 by Dr. Chris Decker and Dr. Justine Pila. (Bettina Lange is on research leave during MT 2019 and HT 2020.) If you have any questions about the contents, approach or teaching methods of this course do not hesitate to make contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Social Science Building, Manor Road.
Dr. Bettina Lange, Associate Professor in Law and Regulation
Restitution of Unjust Enrichment is concerned with how and when a claimant can compel a defendant to surrender an enrichment gained at the claimant’s expense. Long neglected, the subject has in recent years been one of the most exciting in the postgraduate curriculum. It draws its cases from areas of the law which have resisted rational analysis, largely because they have tenaciously preserved the language of an earlier age.
Common lawyers found themselves unable to escape from money had and received, money paid, and quantum meruit, while those on the chancery side became defensively fond of the unsolved mysteries of tracing and trusts arising by operation of law. In the result, down to earth questions about getting back money and value in other forms have been made to seem much more difficult than they need be. The aim of any course on restitution must be to understand what has really been going on and to play back that understanding to the courts in accessible modern language.
This course is concerned only with restitution of unjust enrichment. Restitution for wrongs is not part of the course and is dealt with in the Commercial Remedies course.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the laws by which a claimant can compel a defendant to surrender an enrichment gained at the claimant’s expense.
The principal aim of Roman Law (Delict) is to understand the law of delict as it was in the high classical period, of the late second and early third centuries AD. The course focuses on analysing set texts from the Institutes and Digest and the outlook, ideas and methods of the great Roman jurists who wrote them. A secondary aim is comparative: to understand the modern law of civil wrongs better in the light of what was achieved by the classical jurists. In practice, this invites conceptual engagement with fundamentals of the law of delicts/torts, aided by comparison with modern cases.
The course caters to those interested in making use of their classical background or in developing the knowledge of Roman law they acquired by taking an introductory Roman Law course. Prior engagement with Roman law is, however, not essential. In the past, students have indeed welcomed this course as a first immersion into Roman/Civilian legal thought. The course is also open, as an option, to Oxford undergraduates (with a different exam), which creates additional opportunities for intellectual exchanges.
Knowledge of Latin is not necessary; sensitivity to the philological aspects of the original texts, when relevant, is. The set texts are provided in a translation adapted to its use in this course. In the examination, there will be questions requiring candidates to comment on selections from the set translated texts.
Learning outcomes: an understanding of the concepts of the Roman law of private wrongs and of the ideas and methods of classical jurists, and a capacity to reflect on their influence on English common law. Basic acquaintance with research tools of roman law research.
Brands are the most valuable assets owned by many companies and as consumers we inhabit brand saturated environments. Trade mark law provides the legal underpinnings for the protection of brands, but significant tension remains between (i) the nineteenth century foundations of trade mark law, where marks were defined as indications of commercial origin, helping consumers to find what they want and (ii) the idea that this branch of the law should protect brand image as valuable property. This half-option will provide a detailed interrogation of this tension.
This first half of this course provides an overview of trade mark law, drawing on (EU-influenced) UK trade mark law to explain basic concepts and rules. The second half is more overtly comparative, critically engaging with unresolved issues and themes of contemporary interest, such as brands and social media or celebrity image protection. This course also contrasts legal approaches with those adopted by other relevant disciplines. One prominent example is the manner in which trade mark law constructs the average consumer. Here legal assumptions are tested against the teachings of psychology, marketing, semiotics and finance.
Learning outcomes: This course provides a thorough grounding in UK and EU trade mark law, while contrasting the legal conception of the trade mark with the idea of the brand, as conceived from other disciplinary perspectives. This will entail critical engagement with the question of how far the law should go in protecting the imagery associated with brands when non-confusing associations are being made.
With the growth of international trade has come a growing recognition of the benefits to be obtained through the harmonization of international trade law. Transnational commercial law consists of that set of rules, from whatever source, which governs international commercial transactions and is common to a number of legal systems. Such commonality is increasingly derived from international instruments of various kinds; such as conventions, EC directives and model laws, and from codifications of international trade usage adopted by contract, as exemplified by the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits published by the International Chamber of Commerce and the Model Arbitration Rules issued by the UN Commission on International Trade Law. Underpinning these are the general principles of commercial law (lex mercatoria) to be extracted from uncodified international trade usage, from standard-term contracts formulated by international organisation and from common principles developed by the courts and legislatures of different jurisdictions.
The first part of the course concentrates on the general framework, policies and problems of transnational commercial law, while in the second part these are examined in the context of specific international trade conventions, model laws and contractual codes, so that the student gains a perception of the way transnational law comes into being and helps to bridge the gap between different legal systems.
The course will be taught by Dr Thomas Krebs (convenor) and Professor Stefan Vogenauer. There will be eight lectures in Michaelmas Term. There will then be a weekly two-hour seminar in Hilary Term. There will also be four tutorials. The lectures and seminars will examine the following main areas: General issues of harmonisation; Recurrent problems in harmonisation through conventions; Harmonisation through specific binding instruments (Vienna Sales Convention); Harmonisation through contract and institutional rules; Harmonisation through model laws; The future development of transnational commercial law.
Note. This course is open to a maximum of twenty-four students in any one year. If applications exceed this number, a ballot will be held.
This course covers selected topics within (a) UK Income Tax; Capital Gains Tax; Inheritance Tax and other methods of taxing capital, and their particular application to trusts; (b) general responses to tax avoidance; (c) the classification in UK tax terms of foreign entities similar to trusts such as foundations, usufructs and anstalts and the tax analysis of trusts established under different laws (Memec principles; Baker v Archer-Shee etc.); (d) the use of foreign entities including trusts in succession planning where wealth is spread geographically and there may be conflict of law issues to consider; and (e) certain other related international issues (such as the taxation of foreign domiciled individuals and their trusts generally and connecting UK tax factors including situs of assets and residence).Candidates will not be examined on the details of the Finance Bill or Act of the year of examination. Candidates are advised not to offer this paper unless they have studied the law of Trusts in their first law degree course