Research in the School of Law
Research in the School of Law
The University of Limerick is proud of the vibrant and progressive research community of faculty and students in the School of Law. Faculty are the leading national authorities in such diverse areas as criminology, criminal law, contract, tort, competition, property and land law, penology, sport law (including animals in sport) and victim studies together with hate studies.
Our researchers believe that research must have an impact in the real world, providing workable solutions to the increasing legal challenges our society faces. In addition to publishing regularly in leading national and international prestigious journals, at the heart of our approach is the breaking down of barriers not only between different academic disciplines but between the academy and the wider community. With that in mind, faculty at the School of Law are constantly interacting with our stakeholders to provide relevant research of outstanding quality. Research led teaching is a core element to that approach and, in addition to inculcating a research ethos in all our students from the very beginning of their journey in law, the Advanced Lawyering programme enables faculty to share specific high level research projects with our undergraduate students.
The reputation of Law faculty among our peers is clearly evidenced in a number of key indicators, including strategic participation in national and internationally funded research projects worth millions of euros, appointment of faculty to various government agencies and committees, editorial positions with prestigious journals, the hosting of and participation in prestigious international conferences, strong interaction with professional bodies, robust PhD recruitment, and an extensive network of international partners including a significant presence of top flight visiting scholars from overseas.
Responsibility for research management at the School rests with the Director of Research who is not only responsible for providing strategic direction in research policy but also numerous other supports for faculty and students, including advocacy for legal research within the University.
Core to this success alongside individual research activities are our two primary research centres: the International Commercial and Economic Law Group and the Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies.
Centre for Crime, Justice and Victim Studies (CCJVS)
Building on the highly successful Centre for Criminal Justice, faculty and students are working on various areas with a particular focus on the rights of victims in the criminal justice process and the internationalization of crime.
Traditional criminal justice approaches have previously concentrated on the rights of the accused, regarding criminal activities as a matter of exclusive concern between the state and the accused, often overlooking the needs and interests of the victim. Today, the impact of gender based crimes and domestic violence on victims demands that they play a greater role in the criminal justice process. Faculty and students in this group are working across disciplines to see how that can be achieved, together with research on the underlying theories of why people commit crimes and the unsatisfactory nature of an over reliance on prison based sanctions.
Today, crime no longer respects national borders and faculty and students in the CCJVS are working on various issues seeking to ensure that governments are not limited in their responses to their national territory. Faculty are therefore working extensively on various tools available to the criminal justice system including the European Arrest warrant and the investigation and prosecution of transnational crimes within the EU and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
International Commercial and Economic Law (ICEL)
Broadly put this research grouping deals with general areas of commercial/private law. Their current focus deals with technological innovation and social change. The rapid advance in scientific knowledge is increasingly putting existing legal frameworks under increasing stress providing uncertainty for companies and individuals. Thus faculty and students in this group are currently undertaking research in areas such as self-driving cars, drones, medical treatment and 3D printing, covering both their protection and exploitation through Intellectual Property management and the uncertain liability regimes that these technologies give rise to. The impact of social change on constitutional rights and a culture of liability based compensation and the growing “Uber-isation” of the workforce are issues of specific concern as are the challenges to competition law in the area of digital technology. The criminalization of commercial activities through regulation also presents difficult challenges. New developments in genetics and better understanding of animal psychology are opening areas of concern with respect to animal rights. Finally the changing concept of property and property rights, including data and cyber property, creates a substantial case for reform in such areas as family property law, adverse possession and business leases amongst other things. Faculty and students in this group are at the cutting edge in all these research areas.
Finally, the School of Law also participates in two other research groups: the Centre for Understanding Emotions in Society (CUES) whose Director is from the School of Law and the Hate and Hostility Research Group (HHRG) which is co-Directed by a School of Law faculty member. CUES is a cross university initiative that seeks to address an understanding of the role of emotions in law and society and provides a forum within which disciplines from every area can share their perspective. The HHRG is a multidisciplinary research group dedicated to conducting translational research on hostility towards difference. Together with partners from civil society and the international community, the HHRG explores manifestations of, and potential responses to, hate crime.