Law summer research projects

Browse the range of summer research projects offered by the Auckland Law School for summer 2017/18.

The Modern Framework of Interlocutory Injunctions


Professor Peter Devonshire



Project code: LAW001

I have previously written on the juristic basis of injunctive relief, with particular reference to the status of third parties. This exposed the fact that parties beyond the immediate contemplation of an injunction are often instrumental in fulfilling its purpose. Others may come under an obligation not to impede the administration of justice. These issues are relevant to both domestic and international law.

I would like to review the current status of interlocutory injunctions and identify contemporary issues surrounding this relief. This will enable me to prepare a proposal for the publication of a monograph on the subject. 

The Summer Scholar will:

(i) Conduct case law searches across the principal Common Law jurisdictions (UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand) and produce a synthesis of key issues and emerging trends.

(ii) Conduct a comprehensive literature review (articles and texts) encompassing domestic and international materials.

(iii) Prepare summaries of the above material and discuss the findings with me.

Chemical Weapons Convention in the Asia Pacific


Associate Professor Treasa Dunworth



Project code: LAW002

I have recently agreed to contribute a book chapter for: Suzannah Linton & Tim McCormack (eds), 70 Years of the Geneva Conventions 1949: Perspectives on IHL from & on the Asia Pacific Region.

The deadline for submission of the draft chapters is 1 March 2018 (8,000-10,000 words). I will be working on this project from November 2017 through to the deadline in early March 2018.

My chapter will explore the Chemical Weapons Convention and its implementation in the Asia Pacific region. I anticipate that in addition to a broad-brush overview evaluating the role of states from the region in relation to the Chemical Weapons Convention including their contribution to the treaty, implementing legislation and enforcement mechanisms, I will examine some contemporary challenges facing the treaty. I am particularly interested in exploring the use of incapacitating chemicals in peace operations and whether such use is in compliance with the treaty (my working hypothesis is that it does not), and some reflections on the broader consequences of that for the normative strength of the treaty. I am also interested in exploring the difficulties which arise for less developed states in devoting such substantial resources to implementing international treaty obligations in areas that may not be “core business” for those states.

The summer scholar would be expected to:

  • Undertake a review of the treaty status among states in the region. I would anticipate that, in the first instance, the scholar would prepare some kind of matrix showing participation in the treaty regime, implementing legislation etc.
  • Undertake a review of the academic literature. I expect that there will be very little in the way of academic commentary based specifically on the region, but the scholar would also need to gather what is available.
  • Gather and collate data on the engagement by either the Security Council (SCR1540) or the treaty’s implementing body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons within the region. This might include inspections (where that information is publicly available); implementation assistance; seminars etc.
  • Gather data on police enforcement policies and/or peace enforcement deployments (eg: Bourganville) and determine if information is available on the use of incapacitating agents (which may, depending on the circumstances) constitute a breach of the treaty.
  • Undertake general academic commentary on implementation work of international treaties and assessing how less developed states respond to those requirements. In particular, I am interested in exploring the idea that considerable resources are expended in ensuring compliance with international treaties that may not be “core business” of less developed states. I would anticipate that the scholar would access some critical legal studies literature to assist with this line of thinking.

If there is a paucity of information and commentary on the Asia Pacific region, then the scholar would explore the above questions in say, the African context, to see if there are parallels to be drawn in my analysis.

The Evolution of Human Rights


Dr Andrew (Anaru) Erueti



Project code: LAW003

Research and writing of “narratives” about how these movements emerged and how they have used international human rights law and institutions to advance their agenda.

A greater understanding of social movements and international law relating to human rights; and theory on the foundations of human rights.

Climate Change and the Individual


Associate Professor Caroline Foster



Project code: LAW004

This scholarship is to help in the research effort for developing a contribution as National Rapporteur for New Zealand on the topic “Climate Change and the Individual” for the forthcoming 2018 International Academy of Comparative Law Conference in Fukuoka, Japan -  The organisers  have given the topic of Climate Change and Individual a twist as it will focus mainly on litigation. In particular, the project will focus on the legal challenges and opportunities that individuals face when deciding to take climate change before national courts, whether it is to boost mitigation or adaptation, or even to advance the overall international community’s fight against climate change. It is anticipated that the project will lead to an edited collection published by Springer in their collection Ius comparatum -  The edited collection will include a general report and selected national reports.  National reports are due by 01 January 2018, so the summer scholar should ideally start early in Semester Two.  I would envisage the balance of the scholar’s time going towards blue skies work in another area of interest for me, Law of the Sea, and general research assistant work.  Also, scoping, preparing summaries on, and obtaining material in relation to, developments in NZ.

Housing Law and Policy in New Zealand


Associate Professor David Grinlinton



Project code: LAW005

I am currently the author of Residential Tenancies: The Law and Practice (LexisNexis, 2012), 328pp.  I have a contract to both update this with a new edition, and to author a new work “Housing Law and Policy in New Zealand” due 2018. I would value some research assistance in finding recent cases and secondary commentary on these topics, and collating the material into an easily accessible and excel spreadsheet-based ‘catalogue’.

Work will include library and internet database research on primary and secondary materials relating to residential tenancies and housing law and policy in New Zealand.

The Contra Proferentem Rule in Contractual Interpretation


Mr Rohan Havelock



Project code: LAW006

I have commenced a research project examining the status and role of the ‘contra proferentem’ rule in contractual interpretation.  By way of background, this rule embraces two different principles.  First, it resolves ambiguities against the party who prepared the document in which the clause appeared, or prepared the particular clause, or against the person for whose benefit the clause operates.  Second, ambiguity in an exclusion clause may have to be resolved by a narrow construction because an exclusion clause cuts down or detracts from the ambit of some important obligation in a contract, or a remedy conferred by the general law.

With the advent of the modern law of contractual interpretation, and in particular the influence of Lord Hoffmann’s restatement of principles in Investors Compensation Scheme v West Bromwich Building Society [1998] 1 WLR 896 (HL) the significance of the contra proferentem rule has diminished.  This is because the courts have been (increasingly) prepared to resolve ambiguity through the process of interpretation itself, rather than by the application of what is seen as a formalistic and outdated rule.  The contra proferentem rule is instead regarded as one of ‘last resort’.

My project has two main objectives.  First, to ascertain the current status of the contra proferentem rule in the modern law of contractual interpretation.  This will take the form of a detailed survey and categorisation of case law across major common law jurisdictions (the UK, Australia and NZ).  Secondly, to evaluate whether the current marginalisation of the contra proferentem rule is justified.  Specifically, I intend to examine whether the contra proferentem rule should have a larger role to play in resolving ambiguity, in preference to ambiguity being resolved as a matter of interpretation.

The Summer Scholar would primarily assist me in relation to the first objective of my project.  In broad terms, this will be by:

  • Performing case law searches across several jurisdictions (principally, the UK, Australia, NZ and possibly Canada).
  • Performing searches for relevant academic literature (articles / texts).
  • Categorising the relevant material according to topic and/or theme.
  • Explaining and/or discussing findings with the researcher.
  • Preparing concise summaries of the above for use by the researcher.

ILC Model Rules of Arbitral Procedure


Associate Professor Amokura Kawharu



Project code: LAW007

The summer scholar would be tasked with researching primary materials associated with the development and negotiation of the International Law Commission’s Model Rules of Arbitral Procedure during the late 1940s and 1950s, and creating an ordered bibliography of these materials. The scholar would also be asked to review literature relating to these rules.

While carrying out preliminary research, I realised that there is a wealth of material on the drafting of the rules that has been almost entirely overlooked in the literature. At present, there is a small number of journal articles discussing the ILC’s work in this area as part of an overall assessment of the ILC, and just a couple of articles that summarise the rules. The rules are also acknowledged in some writing as inspiration for parts of the later ICSID Convention (for investment arbitration). There is no discussion about the political dimension to the negotiations, nor the detailed preparatory work that was undertaken before the negotiations commenced.

I will not have time to research the ILC’s work in depth without assistance. However, I would like to write an article on the topic and would be able to achieve this with assistance from a summer scholar.

The summer scholar will locate primary materials (e.g. minutes of drafting meetings, commission reports, UN general assembly resolutions) and review them for relevant information; create a bibliography. Some literature review.

Legal Issues Surrounding Brexit


Professor Jane Kelsey



Project code: LAW008

The outcome of the referendum in June 2016 on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union raises multiple tiers of legal issues, some of which are still evolving. This research focuses on the legal and procedural mechanisms that were installed as part of the European integration process to prevent its disintegration and the way in which the first exit is being conducted from the EU and UK sides.

In the UK the constitutional process has included the referendum itself, legislation and judicial review. The formal triggering of Article 50 in late March by the UK government has set in train a two-year process which is still being devised, with competing priorities and sequencing demands from each side.

This research will provide an overview of the processes and legal issues, and the outstanding legal questions that will need to be resolved. It will feed into a broader project on challenges to deep economic integration projects and the options and strategies for exit.  The research does not involve assessing the consequences of Brexit for domestic law in the UK.

There are 2 main elements to the research:

  1. Explain and evaluate the legal arguments and outcomes of the legislative and judicial review processes in the UK, including academic and media commentary (including legal blogs);
  2. Review and assess the main arguments raised on the EU side about the procedures for the UK to exit, the UK’s residual obligations to the EU, the implications for the UK’s relationship to the EU, and the sequencing of the different elements of the process.

New Zealand Tax History – The George Grey Period


Professor Michael Littlewood



Project code: LAW009

I have previously undertaken several projects on New Zealand tax history. See:

  1. “William Hobson and the origins of the New Zealand tax System, 1840-1842” (2017 NZJTLP, forthcoming;
  2. “The History of Death Duties and Gift Duty in New Zealand” (2012) 18 New Zealand Journal of Taxation Law and Policy, 66-103. An earlier version of this article appeared as a chapter in John Tiley, ed, Studies in the History of Tax Law, volume 5, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2012, 317-357 and was presented at the Fifth History of Tax Law Conference at the Centre for Tax Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, UK, 5 and 6 July 2010;
  3. “In the Beginning: Taxation in Early Colonial New Zealand”, in Peter Harris and Dominic de Cogan, eds, Studies in the History of Tax Law, volume 7, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2015, 293-327. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Seventh History of Tax Law Conference, Cambridge University, 30 June and 1 July 2014, and at the University of Auckland, 6 May 2014.

This project is to continue that work to cover the period (broadly 1845 – 1868) during which Sir George Grey was Governor of New Zealand government and also, therefore, the key figure in the reform of the country’s tax system.

The Scholar’s work will mainly consist of finding, reviewing, analysing and commenting on relevant materials such as:

  1. The taxing legislation enacted during the period;
  2. The record of the New Zealand legislatures;
  3. The correspondence between the New Zealand government and the Colonial Office (some of which is contained in the British Parliamentary papers).

The Scholar will also be given the opportunity to work on a project of his/her own, designed in consultation with me.