Private law has been central to teaching and research at the University of Edinburgh since the establishment of the Chair of Scots Law in 1722. Nearly 300 years later, it remains at the very heart of the activities of the Law School and of its degree programmes.
The focus of private law research at Edinburgh Law School is mainly, although not exclusively, the private law of Scotland. Over the years a distinctive methodology has developed that gives particular weight to legal history and to comparative law. This has been as much concerned with the intellectual history of the law and the circulation of ideas across legal traditions as it has been with matters of legal doctrine.
Scots private law lends itself naturally to comparative study since Scotland is a mixed legal system. Much Scots law originates in the civil law tradition of continental Europe but it has borrowed many principles and the case law method from its common law neighbours in England and Wales. Edinburgh’s private lawyers work in a tradition that is outward-looking by its very nature. They maintain active research links with scholars in contintental Europe and with the larger common law world beyond the United Kingdom.
Edinburgh’s private lawyers have long kept strong links with the courts and the legal profession, and with the Scottish Law Commission and the Scottish Government. The professional development seminars offered annually to legal practitioners have become a familiar institution in Scottish legal life and an important outlet for the Law School’s research expertise. The income raised has been used to fund research studentships in private law.
As Scottish Law Commissioners, Edinburgh’s private lawyers have been instrumental in re-making the modern Scots family law, and the Scots law of property and of contract. Members of the private law research area continue to play a part in the reform of family law and the law of security over property.
Gillian Black, Personal Chair of Scots Private Law
Alexandra Braun, Lord President Reid Chair of Law
David Cabrelli, Chair of Labour Law
Dan Carr, Senior Lecturer in Private Law
Donna Crowe-Urbaniak, Early Career Fellow in Family Law
Paul J. du Plessis, Professor of Roman Law
David Fox, Chair of Common Law
George Gretton, Emeritus Lord President Reid Chair of Law
Aranxta Gutierrez Rajmondova, Early Career Fellow
Parker Hood, Lecturer
Amy Lawton, Lecturer in Tax Law
John Lovett, Honorary Visiting Professor, and De Van D. Daggett, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University New Orleans
John Macleod, Senior Lecturer in Private Law
Katy Macfarlane, Senior Teaching Fellow in Child and Family Law
Laura Macgregor, Chair of Scots Law
Hector MacQueen, Emeritus Professor of Private Law
Gerry Maher, Professor of Criminal Law
Elspeth Reid, Emeritus Professor of Scottish Private Law
Kenneth Reid, Emeritus Professor of Scots Law
Andrew Steven, Personal Chair of Property Law
Remus Valsan, Senior Lecturer in Corporate Law
Scott Wortley, Lecturer
"A Number of Interesting Puzzles Involving the Law of Agency": VMS Enterprises Ltd v The Brexit Party Ltd
Macgregor, L. In: Edinburgh Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 1, 01.2023, p. 83-89. View article
Third Ole Lando memorial lecture : European Contract Law in the post-Brexit and (post?)-pandemic United Kingdom
MacQueen, Hector L. In: European Review of Private Law, Vol. 30, No. 1, 1, 30.01.2022, p. 3-27. View article
Do we want a human first, and a lawyer second? Developing law student empathy through clinical legal educationLawton, Amy; Saban, Kathryn; Whittam, Sadie. In: International Journal of Clinical Legal Education, Vol. 29, No. 1, 28.04.2022, p. 4-31.View article
Acquisitive prescription of moveable property under Russian law
Rudokvas, Anton D.; Steven, Andrew J. M. In: Edinburgh Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 2, 05.2022, p. 194-218. View article
A brief overview of purpose and overview clauses
Wortley, Scott. In: Edinburgh Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 3, 30.09.2022, p. 443-448. View article
llegality and unjustified enrichment
MacQueen, Hector L. In: Europäisches und internationales Privatrecht: Festschrift für Christian von Bar zum 70. Geburtstag. Peter Mankowski; Helmut Grothe & Frederick Rielander (eds). Munich: C H Beck (2022)
Scottish judges in Westminster : The case of Lord Dunedin
Braun, Alexandra. Lurium itinera: Historical Comparative Law and Comparative Legal History. In Honour of Reinhard Zimmermann for His 70th Birthday on 10 October 2022. ed. / Nils Jansen; Sonja Meier. Mohr Siebeck, 2022. p. 29-51 (Beiträge zum ausländischen und internationalen Privatrecht; Vol. 138). View chapter
Accretion of title in Scots law : Property law doing what the granter is obliged to do
Peterson, Alasdair; Macpherson, Alisdair. Lurium itinera: Historische Rechtsvergleichung und vergleichende Rechtsgeschichte; Historical Comparative Law and Comparative Legal History; Reinhard Zimmermann zum 70. Geburtstag am 10. Oktober 2022. ed. / Nils Jansen; Sonja Meier. Mohr Siebeck, 2022. p. 821-843 (Beiträge zum ausländischen und internationalen Privatrecht; Vol. 138). View chapter
Comparative law and the scope of duty : New parables for ancient riddles
Reid, Elspeth. Lurium itinera: Historische Rechtsvergleichung und vergleichende Rechtsgeschichte. Reinhard Zimmermann zum 70. Geburtstag am 10. Oktober 2022. ed. / Nils Jansen; Sonja Meier. Tubingen : Mohr Siebeck, 2022. p. 743-756 (Beiträge zum ausländischen und internationalen Privatrecht ; Vol. 138). View chapter
Scottish Law students in Germany in the 19th century and their influence on legal culture in Scotland
Reid, Kenneth. Lurium Itinera: Reinhard Zimmermann zum 70 Geburtstag am 10. Oktober 2022. ed. / Nils Jansen; Sonja Meier. 1. ed. Tuebingen : Mohr Siebeck, 2022. p. 195-220 (Max-Planck-Institut für ausländisches und internationales Privatrecht: Beiträge zum ausländischen und internationalen Privatrecht; Vol. 138). View chapter
The Law of Delict in Scotland
Reid, E. Edinburgh University Press (2022) View book
Continuity, Influences and Integration in Scottish Legal History: Select Essays of David Sellar
MacQueen, Hector (Editor). Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press, 2022. 408 p. (Edinburgh Studies in Law; Vol. 17). View collection
The Enhanced Role for the Scottish Courts under a Reformed Trust Law
Carr, D. (SSRN Electronic Journal), 2023.
Private Purpose Trusts: Good for Scotland?
Braun, Alexandra. Social Science Research Network (SSRN Electronic Journal), 2023. View working paper
Recognition in England of change of gender in Scotland: A note on private international law aspects
Clive, Eric. Social Science Research Network (SSRN Electronic Journal), 2023.
Recent research projects and collaborations by members of the private law reseach area, include:
Review of Contract Law - published by the Scottish Law Commission
Money in the Western Legal Tradition - funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung
Report on Moveable Transactions - published by the Scottish Law Commission
Nature and Role of Will-Substitutes - funded by the John Fell Fund, the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust
Edinburgh Centre for Private Law
The Edinburgh Centre for Private Law exists to foster and develop private law scholarship in the Law School.
Visit the Edinburgh Centre for Private Law website
Edinburgh Law Seminars
Edinburgh Law Seminars is the main outlet for the private law research areas CPD work.
View the Edinburgh Law Seminars website
The Children’s Panel for Scotland
A member of the Private Law Subject Area serves as member of the Children’s Panel.
Visit the Children's Panel for Scotland website
The EUCOTAX Network
Edinburgh Law School is the UK participating partner in a network established to stimulate the instruction in and research on European aspects of tax law.
View the EUCOTAX Network website
Ius Commune Research School
Edinburgh Law School is an Associate Partner in the Ius Commune Research School, which provides training in comparative legal methodology for our research students.
Visit the Ius Commune website
Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg
Edinburgh private lawyers are regular visitors at the Institute. Our research students have traditionally spent a year of their degree studying there.
Visit the Max Planck Institute website
Scottish Law Commission
A number of Edinburgh private lawyers have served as Scottish Law Commissioners or contributed their expertise to the Commission’s consultations.
Visit the Scottish Law Commission website
University of Salzburg Summer School in Comparative Private Law
Each year a number of our Law undergraduates attend the Salzburg Summer School in Comparative Private Law.
Visit the University of Salzburg Summer School website