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One of the key aims of the Cambridge Private Law Centre is to promote and encourage the research of the private law. We therefore hold a number of Guest Speaker and ‘Work in Progress’ sessions throughout the year. These provide the opportunity for Cambridge research students, academics and visitors to present their work and receive feedback in a friendly and constructive manner. If you would like to present at one of these sessions, please contact us.

Recent events

Private Law's Two Bodies: Downing Professor Inaugural Lecture

Professor Lionel Smith gave his Downing Professor Inaugural Lecture on Friday 19 May 2023 at the Faculty of Law.

Abstract: A large body of private law can rightly be understood as a system of rules that regulates the interactions between atomistic subjects who are free to pursue their own interests so long as they do not infringe upon the legally protected interests of others. The incompleteness of this perspective, however, becomes obvious in relation to the law of fiduciary relationships. From the atomistic perspective, this body of law seems to present a series of insoluble mysteries. One solution is to realize that private law sometimes gives effect to interpersonal relationships that are not atomistic but are, on the contrary, other-regarding. Seeing this clearly helps us to better understand fiduciary law, to better understand the relationship between private law and public law, and ultimately to better understand private law’s duality.

The Downing Professorship was founded in 1800, supported from a bequest from Sir George Downing, the founder of Downing College. Previous holders have included Andrew Amos, FW Maitland, Sir William Ivor Jennings, Stanley de Smith, Gareth Jones and Sir John Baker.

Other events

The Centre also holds occasional half-day events where academics, judges and practitioners come together to discuss important cases in private law. These include:

  • Morris-Garner v One Step (Support) Ltd [2018] UKSC 20, with discussion preceded by a lecture from Sir George Leggatt (now Lord Leggatt): 28 October 2018.
  • Pitt v Holt [2013] UKSC 26: 22 November 2013.