My on-going research falls into five main areas: human rights and land law; land registration; general land law; the role of the judiciary in environmental law; comparative environmental law; and theories of legal governance and the rule of law in planning law.
Human Rights in Land Law: Article 1, Protocol 1
This project considers the role of article 1 protocol 1 in actions for possession by landlords or title-holders in land against tenants, licensees or trespassers. In particular, it examines the role that this article plays where occupier of the land relies on their own article 8, 10 or 11 rights as a defence to the possession action. It thus engages with issues of horizontal effect, and interpretation of statutory provisions in light of human rights. It argues that it is not possible to "balance" article 1 protocol 1 rights against article 8, 10 and 11 rights, and that case law which suggests such is possible incorrectly conceptualising what article 1 protocol 1 is capable of achieving. This project therefore exams both the mechanisms by which human rights are integrated into national law, and also the consequences of such an integration in terms of the structure of property law. I am currently considering in particular the role of such rights in landlord and tenant law, and the issues raised by the decision in cases such as McDonald v McDonald.
I am also currently examining the question of ‘inherent limitation’ in relation to human rights and land law, taking a comparative angle to consider how different jurisdictions conceptualise this problem.
Land Registration: On-going Controversies
My continuing research in relation to land registration looks at guarantee of title provided for by the Register, and the quality and reliability of information on the register.
General Land Law
I am currently writing a sole-authored textbook, Principles of Land Law, which covers all areas of general land law. The book will be published by OUP in early 2020.
I am also looking in theoretical terms at possession in land law, and how the fact of, right to, and presumption of possession feed into the structures of land law.
Role of the Judiciary in Environmental Law
My current focus in relation to environmental law concerns the development of a theory of adjudication in environmental law. Together with Ole W Pedersen, I am looking at the processes and models of adjudication in play in environmental law, to determine how the ‘route’ through adjudication affects the ways in which environmental concerns are handled by the courts. This project examines the potential role that the judiciary have in improving the ‘coherence’ of environmental law.
Theories of Legal Governance and the Rule of Law in Planning and Environmental Law
This project is concerned with the relationship between the legal system and policy in planning law and the implications of this relationship, in particular, for rule of law values within the legal system. I am working on this with Ed Shepherd, and we are considering whether there is an ideological bias within the courts in relation to rule of law values which is warping the operation of planning law.
Linked to this, I am also exploring the role which the Aarhus Convention has played in shaping the relationship between environmental law (and environmental adjudication) and the values within the rule of law. In particular, I look at the contrast one can draw between the effects of Aarhus on legal certainty, on the one hand, and on accessibility on the other.
Conservation at the Margins: the Legal Distinction between Land and Sea
My final on-going project relates to the land/sea, land/water boundary and the implications of this boundary for conservation law. I am working with a number of other scholars on this question. We are examining in particular how a changing climate prompts the need for resilience and adaptability in respect of such legal boundaries, and the challenges that this will pose for judicial determination, particularly in the face of ‘out of date’ legal provisions.