My on-going research falls into five main areas: human rights and land law; land registration; 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 McDonald v McDonald.

Land Registration: On-going Controversies

My continuing research in relation to land registration is focussing not only on the guarantee of title provided for by the Register, but also the quality and reliability of information on the register. I have recently written on the decision in Swift 1st, and am now turning to consider, “the bigger picture”, to draw together the threads of this case law. I am also considering the right to rectify, and its proprietary status. My current focus is on the Law Commission consultation paper, and the implications of its long-stop approach for the future development of this area 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. This can be further divided into sub-projects. 

Emerging from ‘Environmental Offences: Remedying Interpretive Uncertainty’, which concerns the interpretation of environmental criminal law, comes the wider question as to the role of the judiciary in environmental decision-making. It became clear in writing the book that the judiciary are relatively ill-equipped to handle some types of environmental law questions, and very well-equipped to deal with others. A sensible and mature regulatory system would assign such tasks to the best-suited forum, and so this project examines the potential role that the judiciary can and should have in improving the state of coherence and effectiveness in environmental law.
Related to the above project, I am also examining the role of the judiciary in environmental decision-making. In particular, it considers what effect the process of judicial review as a mechanism for resolving environmental disputes has on the overall shape and coherence of environmental law in the UK. This paper focuses in particular on the distinction between questions of fact and questions of law, and how such a distinction can be drawn in an area with a multiplicity of values, and where scientific uncertainties limits the degree to which questions can be divided between questions of value-judgment, and questions of right or wrong. It argues that the judiciary are abdicating their responsibility to interpret environmental legislation by concluding that much of this interpretation involves questions of fact for the discretion of the administrative decision-maker, and that this abdication is hindering the development of environmental law.

Comparative Environmental Law

I am working, together with Professor Jorge E Vinuales, on the development of new approaches to comparative environmental law study. Our intention is to produce an approach which provides for a common vocabulary and framework for discussion of environmental law regulation in a multitude of jurisdictional contexts.

In addition, I am working with College de France and the University of Heidelberg on a project considering the resilience of juridical concepts in the light of environmental consciousness.

Theories of Legal Governance and the Rule of Law in Planning 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.

Soft-Spaces and Legal (Super)Justification

I am working on project considering the role of soft spaces in manipulating legal obligations. I am working together with Franziska Sielker (TU Erlangen) on this paper. We consider whether the multilateral agreements which help to define soft-spaces are accounted for within the legal landscape, and the non-standard legal argumentation to which this gives rise.