This event is also a webinar. To participate, visit from 17:15 (BST) on Wednesday 9 May.

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The shrinking middle class and the widening gap between the rich and the poor constitute significant threats to social and financial stability. One of the main impediments to upward mobility is the inability of the poor to use their property—in which they sometimes hold only de facto, not de jure, rights—as collateral to obtain credit. This lecture will argue that commercial law should recognize those de facto rights, enabling the poor to borrow to start businesses or otherwise create wealth. Recognition would be consistent with, if not compelled by, the innovative trend of commercial law to disentangle commercial and property law to reflect important commercial realities, rather than the arbitrary shifting of rights based on property.

Prof Steven Schwarcz is the Stanley A. Star Professor of Law & Business at Duke University School of Law, Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), and currently serving as the Distinguished Visiting Professor at University College London (UCL) Faculty of Laws.