This course examines general principles of criminal liability, a range of fatal and non-fatal offences against the person and selected offences against property. Attempts to commit offences, secondary liability and defences also form part of the University of London criminal law curriculum. Criminal law consists of a highly developed body of precisely formulated legal rules but as criminal conduct is subject to punishment it thus engages with broad issues of morality and policy. Understanding the tension between certainty in the law and social adaptation affects the development of criminal law will take students beyond the basic stage of understanding the substantive rules of criminal law.
The UK constitution is famously ‘unwritten’ and thus contrasts with other constitutional models. Analysing key issues of sovereignty and the division of powers between legislature, executive and administration, one key question is how far the UK lives up to classic doctrine. Equally, membership of the European Union, and the Human Rights Act 1998, aff ect the overall picture of the relation between citizen and the state. To fully engage with this subject, students need to take an interest in current affairs and debates about what is involved in constitutional issues and reforms.
Contracts are the legal basis of all commercial transactions. Covering the core topics – including formation of contracts, capacity to contract and privity, performance and breach of contract and remedies for breach of contract – the emphasis is on understanding the key underlying principles of English law. This is very much a case law subject, with judicial precedents stretching back nearly 400 years in some instances (but more usually of 19th- and 20th-century origin) and a small number of statutory provisions, as well as the impact of EU law. An understanding of what factors judges may, or must, take into account when exercising their discretion is crucial.
The law of tort concerns the civil liability for the wrongful infliction of injury by one person upon another. The characteristic claim in tort is for monetary compensation or damages. There is no single principle of liability, which makes tort law complex; also there are other sources of monetary compensation for personal injuries (such as unemployment/social security payments, private insurance, criminal injuries compensation schemes, etc.) as well as the fact that the same harms may be pursued through the criminal justice system. Negligence is a key topic and other topics include: interference with economic interest; trespass; defamation; vicarious liability as well as defences and remedies, and sources of future development including EU law.
Law of trusts
A part of Equity law, the law of trusts deals with the rules and principles governing the creation and operation of trusts – a particular method of holding property that developed historically primarily to preserve family wealth, particularly by minimising liability to taxation. The syllabus focuses on three broad areas: 1) the requirements for establishing a valid trust (including express private trusts; charitable trusts; implied and resulting trusts; constructive trusts); 2) the powers and obligations of trustees under a valid trust (including appointment, retirement and removal of trustees); 3) the remedies available when trustees act improperly.
Much of the work of solicitors turns around land law in the form of conveyancing (buying and selling dwellings or commercial enterprises) or the relations between landlords and tenants. Here the central principles of English law are portrayed, including the necessary historical context, as many of the basic concepts were established in social conditions very diff erent from today. Land law centres on the concept of the nature and quantum of the various interests that can exist in land, the principles governing the creation, transfer and extinction of these interests and the extent that those interests are enforceable against third parties.
Civil and criminal procedure
Focused on the substantive issues and values that underpin Civil and criminal procedure, the course is divided equally between Civil and criminal procedure. Students will be expected to compare and contrast Civil and criminal procedure and will need to have a good working knowledge of the court system and the way in which civil and criminal justice is organised and dispensed. Specific topics include: civil process before trial, commencement of proceedings, jurisdiction, responding to a claim, case management, summary disposals and trials, remedies and criminal procedure, police powers and bail, commencement of proceedings, pleas and plea bargaining, ID and other evidence and sentencing.
Jurisprudence and legal theory
[This course is compulsory under Schemes A, B and F and optional under the Graduate Entry Routes.]
Jurisprudence poses the fundamental questions about the nature of law, its place in society and how a legal system operates as a system of rules and as a social institution engaging with ideals of justice and often conflicting moral codes. While covering the key developments in classic and contemporary legal theory, from natural law through legal positivism, Marxism, critical legal studies (including critical race theory) and feminist jurisprudence, and engaging with issues about judicial decision-making that connect critically with substantive law courses, ultimately this is a subject in which there are no authorities and no final court of appeal: the reader/the student must be the judge. This makes it a difficult subject, but also a rewarding one.
The law of evidence governs what facts may be presented – and contested – in the courtroom, the techniques for eliciting evidence, and the role of the lawyers, jury and judge in an adversarial system. The subject is an attractive mixture of the intensely practical (e.g. how is cross-examination controlled? what is a jury permitted to hear? when has the burden of proof been discharged?) and the abstract and academic (what is a ‘fact’? what does ‘relevance’ mean? when is evidence prejudicial?). Highly relevant to actual day-to-day legal practice, the subject will appeal especially to students intending to practise in court.
Administrative law has been hugely expanding in the late 20th century/early 21st century. Its core purpose is to ensure that any decisions or action taken by government are lawful and, when they are not, to provide redress for grievances. A range of grievance-redressing mechanisms are examined, including: judicial review, ‘ombudsmen’ and tribunals. The course also looks at how policies can be implemented through delegated legislation, informal rules, the use of discretion and so on. This subject will appeal to students who enjoyed studying Public law and who have an interest in public affairs.
History of English law
Full understanding and enjoyment of studying legal history develops both historical and legal skills. Thanks to the large amount of surviving materials, the origins of the common law may be traced in considerable detail from its effective beginnings as the body of customary laws applied in the royal courts during the first two centuries following the Norman Conquest in 1066. The institutions of the common law courts, procedure and modes of trial are traced through to the early modern period, followed by an examination of the historical development of the substantive law of land law, contract and tort. This course will appeal to students who enjoy exploring a wide range of reading materials for themselves.
Public international law
Public international law has been increasingly under the spotlight as it governs – among other things – the agreed rules of the use of force. Public international law concerns legal relations between states but also deals with the role of the United Nations and other international organisations and, in the fields of human rights and international criminal law, the rights and duties of individuals. The course moves from examining basic principles – the sources of international law and the bases of recognising statehood – through specific issues of jurisdictional immunities, treaties and state responsibility to go on to see how these principles are applied in specific areas such as international criminal law, human rights, international environmental law and the law of the sea.
Conflict of laws
Also known as private international law, this is the body of rules applied by the English courts to cases with a foreign element, dealing with core issues of jurisdiction, substantive decision-making and recognition of the laws of other jurisdictions. Existing case law has been developed in recent years with the statutory implementation of International Conventions and Law Commission reports – yet there are questions as yet unsettled, which increases the importance of academic writing and also gives students the chance to present their own solutions. The course covers all English domestic law.
Who is entitled to a person’s property on their death, whether that person has made a will or dies intestate? And should there be any restrictions on whom people who make wills are allowed to leave property to when they die? These are the basic questions underpinning the law of succession, and they will affect all people who have access to some form of property, whether as inheritors or as those passing on property. The aim of this course is to explore in detail the operation of inheritance law, especially how a valid will is made, how it can be challenged, how it is administered and what happens when a person dies without leaving a valid will.
Commercial law is concerned with obligations between parties to commercial transactions and the relationship with rules of personal property. Students are expected to become familiar with the significance and implications of: ownership of or title to goods; the transfer of title and its effect on third parties; the passing of property between buyer and seller; the significance of possession; and responsibility for risk of loss of or damage to goods and its transfer from one party to another. Familiarity with the general ideas underlying contract, tort and trust law will provide a useful background. Emphasis is placed on both knowledge of principles and the ability to apply the rules of law to achieve practical solutions to practical problems.
Labour law has key consequences both for individuals in their job settings and the operation of the labour market in general. The course begins with matters that may be pursued by individuals, covering contracts of employment, unfair dismissal, redundancy, equal pay, and sex and race discrimination. (Understanding of contract law and a willingness to grapple with EU law is important here.) The second part deals with ‘collective’ labour law: the protection of the worker re trade union membership and activities; the status and organisation of trade unions; trade union recognition; the legal regulation of collective bargaining and the law relating to trade disputes. This course will appeal to students interested in industrial relations and their historical and political contexts.
Family law affects every member of society, from conception to the grave. Originating in religious law, today the legal regulation of family relationships involves a complex relation between the family and the state. Marriage and divorce and the legal status of offspring are intertwined with questions of financial provision and child protection, not to mention public policy issues arising from advances in biological science or the rise of children’s rights. Family law is highly porous in relation to expert knowledge from disciplines such as psychology and sociology, which means that understanding the statute and case law is not a discrete or isolated study.
This area of law is fast moving with frequent legislative change due to pressures for reform from the UK Department of Trade and Industry and from the EU with its policy of harmonising the company law of its member states. The syllabus centres on the way law regulates companies and the facilities company law offers, such as limited liability and transferability of shares – as well as the corresponding burdens (duties of disclosure, compliance with statutory procedures and common law duties) and the dynamics of the often tense relationship between shareholders and management. A vital course for anyone intending to operate in the commercial field; students will benefit from knowledge of Contract, Tort, Trusts and Public law.
[EU law is a required course by the professional bodies in England and Wales for the LLB as a Qualifying Law Degree.]
The European Union (EU) is a relatively new legal system that combines characteristics of international law and national legal systems. EU institutions and law-making powers are examined as well as the key questions of the impact of EU law on national law and its overall consequences for a) business enterprises and b) individuals. As EU law is highly responsive to economic and social changes, legal rules and judicial decisions are studied in their wider context. The subject will appeal to students who enjoyed studying Public law or who have an interest in public affairs, politics, economics or international relations.
Intellectual property is a rapidly expanding body of law that has come into increasing domestic and international prominence. Involving both artistic and scientific concerns, intellectual property underpins a wide variety of everyday activities for individual consumers – hence in turn its immense economic and industrial significance. The law of intellectual property rights seeks a difficult balance between rewarding the right owner and the needs of society to gain access to scientific, technological or cultural benefits. It includes copyright, patent and trade mark law. The course examines the range of different domestic and international legal categories involved
in regulating this form of intangible property, and pays specific attention to the ways in which English law, lacking any discrete law of unfair competition, frequently relies on ‘press-ganging’ a range of independent rights (such as confidentiality) to serve that purpose.
Introduction to Islamic law
This course offers students an overview of Islamic law, covering its religious, historical and contemporary dimensions. The emphasis of the first part of the course is on the religious and historical foundations of Islamic law, including the emergence of different schools of Islamic law and their consolidation in the main authoritative sources of Islamic law. The course then goes on to examine the application of Islamic law in contemporary jurisdictions, including the reform of Islamic law, focusing on Islamic family law with a shorter section on Islamic criminal law, covering a range of jurisdictions from the Middle East and South Asia. Aspects of civil law and
international law are also covered.
International protection of human rights
International protection of human rights law concerns protection afforded to individuals. This course seeks to instil a holistic and critical awareness of the fundamental concepts, principles, theories and philosophies underlying international human rights as well as an understanding of the principal internal mechanisms installing and enforcing/monitoring these rights. Specific topics covered include: the individual in international law; debates about universalism vs cultural relativism; genocide; the history, politics and specific human rights legal enactments instituted by the United Nations; enforcement mechanisms; a review of the systems by reference to key vulnerable groups, notably refugees; the evolution of international individual responsibility for acts such as crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Selection group M [Level 200 and 300 courses]
From this selection group you can choose between either Financial management or Corporate finance.