Applied Commercial Law and International Business Practices
Contemporary concerns originating in market and business failures sufficiently indicate the vital importance of business law for accountability and performance. Taking account of the rapid developments in this field, this module offers students an unique opportunity to explore business law on a broad spectrum. It allows for an investigation into new and dynamic issues pertinent to the operation of businesses in the international context, including intellectual assets management, international payment and transactions, the governance of businesses and aspects of insolvency and personal responsibility. Designed to accommodate both legal and commercial perspectives, it allows students to obtain an understanding of cutting edge developments in a number of discrete legal areas.
Law of International Trade
This module elaborates and analyses
(a) the legal and commercial issues associated with international sale contracts;
(b) the organization and content of such contracts; and
(c) how parties can engineer satisfactory solutions through adjusting the terms of their agreement against a background of freedom of contract.
The concentration will be on the rules of English law: but reference will be made where relevant to other regimes, including the Uniform Commercial Code and the 1980 Vienna Convention on the International Sale of Goods.
We identify the principal categories of international sale and commodity contracts; in addition, we give extended attention to the INCOTERMS 2020 (both shipping-related and non-shipping-related) promulgated by the International Chamber of Commerce.
Our examination of the legal relationship between international sellers and buyers includes questions of general sales law; of ownership, title and risk; of force majeure; of the commercial and legal significance of transport documentation and insurance; and of the question of remedies.
We will make time available time to discuss contemporary issues as they arise, such as the harmonisation of international trade law, and issues associated with containerisation and multi-modal transport.
Electronic Commerce and Payments
This module seeks to address the complex legal issues and regulatory challenges arising from the pursuit of commercial activities by electronic means. It focuses in particular expanding role of various types of electronic transactions and different forms of electronic payments within the modern commercial sphere. It examines the legal frameworks that have been put in place for dealing with key aspects of such transactions and payments both at the national level and internationally. The module identifies and discusses the problems that governments have had to contend with in seeking to exert their regulatory control in the realm of electronic commerce. Where appropriate, it does so from a comparative perspective which looks at the approaches adopted in the U.K, the E.U and various other jurisdictions. Also examined is the application of existing legal principles to e-commerce, again adopting a comparative approach, analysing existing legal adaptations, their appropriateness and how such adaptations might be improved in the future.
IP, Innovation and the Law
This module studies the impact of the fourth industrial revolution, precisely modern innovative technologies on law and regulation of intellectual property rights in the digital age. It focuses on the relationship between law, innovation and technological developments, and explores legal protection of intellectual assets created in the process of digitalisation.
In the digital age, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives and classic human-to-human interactions have transformed into human-to-machine communications. Apart from the inevitable boost in e-commerce and automatisation powered by AI, big data and computation, our dependence on digital technologies and services has increased over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amidst these enormous changes brought by the fourth industrial revolution, digitalisation and intellectual property become hand in hand. Indeed, creative assets and intellectual property rights might become more vulnerable to thefts or infringement risks. Hence, governments and legal authorities strive to ensure appropriate regulation and protection which in turn facilitate digitalisation and provide more opportunities for innovative activities.
The module is designed to give students a knowledge base of the legal doctrines and provisions that are applied to intangible outputs and intellectual property rights and their implications in the digitalised world. It gives an overview of the emerging technological developments and digitalisation trends and scrutinises their relationship with intellectual property rights created through transactions taking place in cyberspace. Upon critical evaluation of the nature and significance of intellectual property rights including copyrights, patents, trademarks, designs and similar rights in terms of technology, commercial interests and the law, the module underpins the increased importance of intangibles, such as brands, know-how and data in the digital economy. In this vein, the course sheds light on the private and public interests of businesses, enterprises, governments as well as the international community to ensure legal protection of intellectual property rights and explores national, regional (EU) and international aspects of the regulatory frameworks. The module further delves into the fundamentals of blockchain technology and smart contracts and their implications for the intellectual property ecosystem. Moreover, having regard to technological innovations experienced in the maritime industry and the government¿s Marine 2050 strategy, the course also looks at the intellectual property aspects of the AI-powered ships operating independently of human interaction. Finally, the module addresses intellectual property and technology disputes and their resolution.
Ship and Other Mobile Assets Finance Law
The availability of credit, and the provision of personal and real security that go with it, are vital to entrepreneurial activities everywhere, including in particular the transport sector. This module focuses on the legal framework and policy concerns that underpin the provision of credit, putting particular emphasis on ships and other mobile assets, such as aircraft. Taking both an English and an international perspective, it inquires into the nature and functions of credit and other mechanisms for financing the acquisition of high-value assets, most notably leasing; it also takes a detailed look at personal security and bank guarantees. It then goes on to explore how the law seeks to regulate and balance the competing interests of different categories of creditors, lessors, lessees and other parties implicated in or affected by credit and leasing arrangements, again with particular emphasis on the transport sector.
Admiralty Law is offered as a one-year LLM subject and is commonly taken alongside other maritime options, such as Charterparties: Law and Practice, Law of the Sea, Oil and Gas Law and Marine Insurance Law. However, there is little direct intellectual interaction between the current module on Admiralty Law and other maritime modules. Thus, the course may be of particular interest to students enrolled both on the specific programme of International Maritime Law, as well as the International Commercial and Maritime Law.
This course concerns a practical aspect of maritime law which was developed by the Admiralty Court in England, and which has influenced many countries in the world. The aim of the course is to provide students with a practical and critical knowledge of those aspects of maritime law relating to the running of the ship. The course is essentially in two parts. Part one deals with substantive areas of maritime law, such as the law of collisions, harbour law, pilotage, salvage, towage, general average, seafarer¿s rights, and carriage of passengers. Part two focuses on enforcement of maritime claims through the practice and procedure of the Admiralty Court, including ship arrest, jurisdiction, maritime liens, statutory liens, and limitation of liability.
Although we shall analyse relevant legal concepts from the perspective of English law, the true international character of the course will rapidly become apparent. Many aspects of maritime law have been regulated by international conventions, i.e. the Convention Relating to the Arrest of Sea Going Ships 1952; the International Convention on Salvage 1989; International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims 1976. This would inevitably mean that rules and problems encountered will be similar in various jurisdictions. For example, rules on salvage will be identical in England/Wales; Canada; China; France; Greece; Germany; India; Italy; Nigeria; Norway; Turkey, as all these countries have implemented the provisions of the Salvage Convention 1989 into their legal system either by accession or ratification.
Oil and Gas Law: Contracts and Liabilities
Offshore oil and gas exploration and production has always been an uncertain field of law, with practice and governing regulation becoming increasingly difficult to set out and apply as a result of the constant change in technology and geopolitics.
This module aims to give a broad, yet detailed, foundation in the main aspects of petroleum contracts/agreements, with heavy examination of some of the most significant contracts during the various phases and activities, from pre-authorisation to decommissioning.
Rather than use the term `chain¿ or `list¿ of contracts, the idea of a `web¿ or a `matrix¿ is more appropriate, due the nature of the industry - which involves numerous important parties working together, with various stages and phases often taking place in tandem with others. This complex framework of contracts begins with the seeking and gaining of authorisation for E&P and ends with post-authorisation ¿ a stage which often goes beyond the life cycle of a rig. This module will also explore aspects of project financing as well as more `downstream¿ transport and sale elements specifically those of refined oil/gas sales.
Environmental regulation has taken on an increasingly important role in recent years and with the Deepwater Horizon disaster of less than half a decade ago still fresh within the consciousness of the affected parties, this module will seek to analyse the current liability framework in place for the industry. It will also explore the common potential tortious liabilities which take place during the daily running of the operation.
Although this module may take some elements from English law, it is intended as a module covering issues which can be found internationally and will be taught as such.
Distributed Ledger Technology (Blockchain) and Commerce - Law and Regulation
Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is an integral part of the emerging digital transformation taking place within commercial and financial industries. It has the potential to dramatically alter the way businesses operate, providing improved efficiency of current client requirements and opening doors for new services.
In simple terms, DLT is a database that is distributed across several independent computing devices (nodes) where changes to data are protected and managed by cryptography and consensus ensuring that data cannot tampered with and that all parties have identical copies that can be considered as a reliable source of truth.
This module intends to analyse the legal position of those employing such ledgers in the context of their businesses. To appreciate the potential legal problems emerging, the applications of such ledgers in different areas of commercial law (finance, insurance, shipping) will be studied. The module will then discuss whether any change in private law rules is required to ensure that such ledgers do not create unexpected consequences for relevant parties. Regulators are also actively exploring the need to regulate the use of such ledgers. Regulation is rather challenging in this area due to potential jurisdictional problems, and overly strict regulation could potentially reduce the commercial values of such ledgers. These issues, along with others, will be discussed as part of this module.