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Teaching & Researching Property Law in the 21st Century

NUS Law hosts Australasian Property Law Teachers Conference 2012

(L-R) Fiona Burns (University of Sydney), Simone Wong (University of Kent) and Daniel Fitzpatrick (Australian National University)Delegates hailed from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Israel, and even beyond the Australasian region, all possessing one shared attribute – a passion and enthusiasm for the study and teaching of property law. By Timon Chiong Kai Xiang'14 and Star Chen Xinhui'14

NUS Law Dean Simon Chesterman giving his Welcome AddressNUS Law School welcomed academics and researchers from over 20 universities on 12th and 13th July for the 11th edition of the Australasian Property Law Teachers’ Conference. The conference was convened by Tang Hang Wu ’95 and was held in Asia for the first time. 

A total of 26 papers were presented to the theme of ‘Teaching and Researching Property Law in the 21st Century’. Penny Carruthers and Natalie Skead from University of Western Australia, together with Kate Galloway from James Cook University, kick-started the discussion with their opening presentation.

After outlining the changing landscape of property law, the trio went on to set the tone for the conference by championing a shift in the focus from teaching black-letter law to that of law in context. The proposition of a holistic, not atomistic, curriculum found consonance with both Lye Lin Heng of National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nicole Graham from University of Technology Sydney (UTS), who proposed the introduction of more practical components and the integration of sustainability respectively.

Kelvin Low from Singapore Management University (SMU) highlighted the conceptual complexities in the technical terminologies employed in teaching property law, citing the usage of homonyms and dissecting the nuances behind the word ‘property’.

(Top row, L-R) Malcolm Merry (HKU) and Douglas C. Harris (UBC) (Bottom row, L-R) Kelvin Low (SMU) and Lye Lin Heng (NUS)

The environmentalists had a field day with Troy Brown’s (MSU) exploration of the proprietary ramifications from the BP Oil Spill …

Property Law from Oil Spills to Pets

The wide assortment of issues raised in the various sessions spanned a whole spectrum of property law matters. The environmentalists had a field day with Troy Brown’s exploration of the proprietary ramifications from the BP Oil Spill, and Elizabeth Toomey’s (University of Canterbury) paper on the property law reforms in the wake of the Christchurch earthquakes among other captivating topics. For rights advocates, presentations on native title claims among indigenous peoples in various jurisdictions were certainly thought-stimulating.

(L-R) Douglas C. Harris (University of British Columbia), Tang Hang Wu (National University of Singapore), Malcolm Merry (Hong Kong University) and Margaret Stephenson (University of Queensland)

Other highlights include Rachel Leow’s paper on resolving disputes between co-owners of pets, and Malcolm Merry’s discussion on the curious case of indigenous property customs in Hong Kong. The faculty’s own Teo Keang Sood and Tang Hang Wu also presented papers at the conference.

Gastronomic Experience

Delegates having dinner at Samy’s Curry

The conference saw not just intellectual appetites satisfied, but gastronomic appetites as well, as delegates sampled some of Singapore’s best delicacies. This started with the welcome dinner at The Wok & Barrel, where the modern twists on classic Singaporean dishes provided a foretaste of the gastronomic delights in store. (The backdrop of traditional shop-houses and the iconic Pinnacle@Duxton alluded to the theme that would run through most of the conference – the modernising of a historically rich area of law).

The delegates also enjoyed briyani at Samy’s Curry and chilli crab at Jumbo Seafood Riverside. The spicy cuisine had no numbing effect on the academics who joined in hearty laughter and warm conversations.

All in all, the conference certainly turned out to be an extremely successful event, providing a healthy dose of enrichment for the heart, soul and the mind.  







This Issue Dean's Diary DIrector Faculty Students Reunions Class Action


David Tan promoted to Associate Professor

NUS Law congratulates David Tan on his promotion to Associate Professor with retroactive effect from 1 July 2012. 

Assoc Prof Tan has carved a niche for himself in the fields of intellectual property & cultural studies, prominently including his work on entertainment law. His teaching and research have also produced ground-breaking work on freedom of speech jurisprudence. 

Above and beyond his teaching and research, Assoc Prof Tan directs our general LL.M. programme (i.e. without specialisation). He is also heading a new project on strategic communications, working closely with the faculty’s corporate communications department.







Other highlights include Rachel Leow’s paper on resolving disputes between co-owners of pets...