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The University of Southampton
Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

Research Group: Insurance Law

Currently Active: 
Yes

The Law School is a leading centre for research in and teaching of insurance law, both nationally and worldwide.

Although insurance law is a topic of major importance to private individuals and the commercial sector alike, it is researched or taught at only a very small number of universities in the UK and other common law jurisdictions.

The University of Southampton Law School is home to several academics whose primary research interest is insurance law. It is also home to the largest community of postgraduate researchers in insurance law in the UK.

Current Activities

In the last few years, floods have caused chaos in many communities across the UK. Heavy rain and high winds have swept across the country raising river levels to alarming levels and increasing the power of damaging surge tides. The result has been misery for families forced out of their homes by flood water and big bills for insurance companies who foot the bills for repairs. Now, many householders who live in areas of high flood risk are increasingly finding it difficult to find affordable home insurance.

Matters will come to a head later this year because an arrangement between the UK government and insurers to provide insurance cover for people in the worst ‘at risk' areas will expire in June 2013.

Researchers at the Southampton Law School are working on a major project to provide information to policymakers who will decide on how to tackle the problem. Research Fellow Mateusz Bek, who studied for his LLB and LLM at Southampton, is investigating and assessing how Australia, New Zealand and the USA administer home insurance and deal with legal issues surrounding floods and other natural disasters.

The project is supervised by Senior Research Fellow Johanna Hjalmarsson, who is a member of the University's Insurance Law research group after graduating from Southampton with an LLM degree.

On 2nd July 2013, Johanna Hjalmarsson's research about Future Availability of Flood Insurance will be showcased at the House of Parliament.

Future Availability of Flood Insurance in the UK by Johanna Hjalmarsson

Flood Insurance Vodcasts

Past Activities

On 16 April 2012, The University of Southampton Insurance Law Research Group organised the first far-reaching academic conference on insurance law in UK. With the generous sponsorship of Modern Law Review, "Insurance Contract Law Reform Conference" was held at the London offices of Norton Rose LLP with the participation of many academics and guest speakers from UK and abroad. Academic views in respect of the Law Commission's recent proposals on insurance contract law were discussed in the presentations and panel discussions which were highly interactive thanks to a dynamic participation from the audience. The inaugural speech of the conference was delivered by Prof Rob Merkin and sessions were chaired by postgraduate research students from the Insurance Law Research Group.

On 26 June, the academic conference was followed by an event for practitioners "Whither Insurance Contract Law Reform?" which was organised jointly by the British Insurance Law Association, the Law Commission and the University of Southampton and was held at Willis. The whole day conference was chaired by Lord Justice Rix and Lord Justice Aikens. Prof Rob Merkin delivered a speech entitled "Whether Proposals Go Far Enough?".

On 23 October 2012, Professor Rob Merkin gave a lecture at the University of Sydney in the 2012 Ross Parsons Corporate Law seminar series, entitled 'Should consumer protection laws be extended to insurance contracts?'. In other news from the southern hemisphere, Rob Merkin has been made Honorary Professor at the University of Auckland Business School.

The Richard Cooper Memorial Lecture was this year delivered by Professor Rob Merkin on 13th October in the Brisbane Federal Court. The audience consisted of senior judiciary, practitioners and academics. The lecture was broadcast simultaneously to other Federal Courts throughout Australia. Justice Cooper was a distinguished maritime judge who passed away suddenly in 2005, and the Memorial Lecture series was established in the same year.

In the lecture Professor Merkin argues that it is time for Australia to abandon its twin track approach to insurance law, which presently consists of separate marine and non-marine codes, and to bring the old marine insurance provision dating back to 1909 within the much more recent code adopted in 1984.

Follow this link for the video and the paper accompanying Professor Merkin's lecture.

Constructive Total Losses and the Market's Misperception You Tube Video

Postgraduate research

The School has the largest number of postgraduate researchers anywhere in the UK and a very active insurance law research community. There is a number of ongoing projects, both carried out by the postgraduates independently and under the supervision of senior researchers, including a major conference on insurance law; a project to produce a series of instructive texts for a marine insurer; and a series of colloquia looking at the impact of piracy on marine insurance and other parts of the maritime sector.

Current postgraduate researchers in insurance law are:

Arwa Ibrahim A Aljallal, Caroline Bell, Aysegul Bugra, Konstantinos Kofopoulos, Jennifer Lavelle, Nisha Mohammed, Qinhuo (Victor) Yang, and Meixian Song.

Dr Ozlem Gurses, Professor Alastair Hudson, Dr Andrea Lista, Professor Francis Rose, Professor Hilton Staniland and Professor Paul Todd welcome proposals from potential postgraduate research students.

Postgraduate research at Southampton

Aysegul Bugra and Kostis Kofopoulos are postgraduate researchers at the University of Southampton and active members of the Insurance Law Research Group. Their PhD research is focused on Delay in Marine Insurance Law and Constructive Total Losses in Marine Insurance Law, respectively.
While at Southampton, both Aysegul and Kostis have been active in all things academic – they have written articles and edited publications, presented at conferences and contributed to practitioners' works and reports. In April 2012 they organised and also chaired sessions at the first academic Insurance Law Reform Conference in London, which reunited all top-tier academics in the field of English insurance law, as well as representatives of the Law Commission and the presidents of the Australian and New Zealand insurance law associations. As they near completion of their theses and in view of their expertise and practical experience, they have been contributing to teaching Marine Insurance to Masters level students by giving very popular tutorials in the subject.

LLM

The Southampton Law School is now offering a specialised LLM in Insurance Law.  

There are also two modules in Insurance law (LAWS6099) and Marine insurance (LAWS6065) that can be taken as part of other LLM streams.

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