LAW > DEAN'S REPORT

As part of a research-led University, the Faculty of Law supports the development of objectives and action steps to promote research-oriented scholarship and teaching, to introduce appropriate reward systems, and generally to enhance UCT's global competitiveness. Over the past year, the Law Faculty’s research endeavours continued to grow in all of these respects.

The Faculty comprises three departments: Commercial Law, Public Law and Private Law. These departments incorporate nine research entities under the auspices of the Centre for Legal and Applied Research and numerous individual researchers. Under our present governance structure, the Director of Research facilitates the smooth running of the research enterprise within the departments and the research units.

The Law Faculty hosts two SARChI Research Chairs, which includes the well-established Chair in Criminology (Professor Clifford Shearing) and the newly created Chair in African Customary Law (Professor ChumaHimonga). The Chair in African Customary Law replaces the Chair in Customary Law, Indigenous Values and Dignity Jurisprudence, which was held by the University until the end of 2009. The Faculty has 14 NRF-rated researchers, comprisingtwo A-rated researchers, four B-rated researchers, six C-rated researchers and two Y-rated researchers.

Frequent visits of and presentations by guest lecturers from around the globe contribute to the maintenance of the vibrant intellectual community at the Law Faculty. In 2010, prominent guest lecturers included Professor Frank Michelman (Harvard), Associate Professor Karen Bubna-Litic (University of Technology, Sydney), Dr Muthaka Kangu (member of the Constitutional Review Commission of Kenya), Rhodes Scholar Professor Kenneth K .Mwenda (Senior Counsel in the Legal Vice-Presidency of the World Bank, Washington DC), Professor Helen Stacy (Stanford University), Chief Justice of South Africa The Hon. Mr Justice Sandile Ngcobo, who gave the Claude Leon Lecture on Constitutional Governance, and Professor Asif Quereshi (Manchester University), who delivered the annual Ben Beinart Memorial lecture. Professor Hanri Mostert delivered her inaugural lecture, entitled “Accountability and Dependability as Pillars of Property Law”, in September 2010.

The Faculty received support from the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategic Fund for the creation of a Centre for Comparative Law in Africa. The objective of the Centre is to forge links between scholars in Africa, to service postgraduate students, attract foremost African scholars in law to the university and to promote comparative research. The process of appointment of a Chair as academic head of the Centre and a Director as manager and fundraiser commenced in 2010, after a business plan was drafted and consultation was sought on the implementation of strategies outlined in the business plan.

The research units within the Law Faculty, operating under the auspices of the Centre for Legal and Applied Research, have had a productive year. One highlight was the Democratic Governance and Rights Unit’s hosting of Constitution Week (February), which marked the 15th anniversary of the Constitutional Court. Further, the Law Race and Gender Research Unit’s Rural Women’s Action Research Project, led by MsAninkaClaassens and working with partners in the Legal Resources Centre and affected local communities, contributed to the successful constitutional challenge against the Communal Land Rights Act.

Another highlight is the Centre for Criminology’s work on physical and environmental security. Various members of the Centre are active in these fields, and many projects were concluded during 2010. The project exploring the policing of the soccer World Cup of 2010 made a valuable contribution to research on the topic of international police cooperation and security governance. Within the environmental security programme, projects on poor-focused environmental economies, and the impact of climate change and related environmental risks on the sustainability of the insurance industry, have yielded good results this past year.

The Intellectual Property Unit successfully completed their Africa Project, which resulted in the published book Access to Knowledge in Africa. The Role of Copyright, which is based on the work of the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge research network.

The permanent academic staff in the three departments have once again, despite heavy teaching commitments, made the richest contribution to research in the Faculty through the publication of a plethora of journal articles, chapters in books and books.

The Law Faculty in 2010 invested considerable time, effort and funds in creating an enabling environment for its researchers. Addressing a space shortage problem which affected the research units and the departments of Public Law and Commercial Law specifically, it optimised existing research space in the Faculty to accommodate more workstations. Addressing these infrastructural needs of our researchers is an ongoing challenge and a priority.

Further details are provided in the departmental reports of the Faculty over the past 12 months. Overall, we can look back with satisfaction on 2010 as a productive year.

Professor Pamela Schwikkard
Dean of the Faculty of Law

 

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