Doctoral Research at the Centre for Applied Legal Research

The supervision and support of doctoral students researching topics and issues in law is an important part of the Centre for Applied Legal Research (CALR)’s work. Irrespective of their mode of study (full or part time) doctoral students are included as members of CALR and participate in our activities.

Current PhD Students

Coralie Neave-Coleshaw: ‘Employment and Support Allowance: A Human Rights Analysis’

Coralie’s thesis seeks to explore the constitutional role of the courts in relation to the developing socio-economic rights jurisprudence of the European Convention of Human Rights by focussing on recent human rights breaches within Employment and Support Allowance.

Andrew H. Baker: ‘Why regulate? A critical analysis of the rationale and effectiveness of UK bank regulation’

In his PhD Andrew focuses on whether there was a rush to regulate following the global financial crisis, and whether a simplified regulated structure focused on a few key aims would prove more successful.

Siavash Ostovar: ‘Bringing the Ramsar Convention Home: A Critical Examination of the Legal Regulation of the Ecosystem of Urmia Lake’

Unfortunately, the Urmia Lake is at risk of drying. It has been shrinking rapidly for the last fifteen years. The lake area has decreased from 6,100 to 4,750 km2 which resulted in about 6 meters drawdown in water level. The decline of the water lake has had negative consequences.

In fact, this problem had jeopardised the region’s industrial and agricultural sectors. Furthermore, the decrease in water level of the lake has led to buried-underwater salt exposure. Lake Urmia is an endorheic or terminal lake. It means that water leaves the lake only by evaporation. As is generally the case, this leads to a saltwater body and in the case of Lake Urmia, salinity is quite high. The lake has dramatically decreased in volume over the past decade and a half, further concentrating salts in the lake, raising salinity to more than 300 g/L (9) or 8 times as salty as typical seawater. Persistence of this situation allows the exposed salt to blow away, causing a serious threat to the health of the inhabitants of the region.

According to several studies conducted in recent years, different reasons have been accounted for the causes of this problem including changes in hydro-climatic variables, human activities (development of agricultural lands due to increasing water diversion for irrigated agriculture), and mismanagement (for example, allocating 90% of the lake water for agricultural purposes).

Indeed, this issue has been addressed from different fields and viewpoints which will be deal with more comprehensively in the following chapter. However, little or no studies addressed the national and international rules as having important roles in saving such asset.

This PhD project will use a national environmental catastrophe caused by drying up of Urmia Lake as an excuse to direct the attention to the weaknesses of the existing national and furthermore international rules and regulations. In highlighting the local effects of such crisis it will draw up on the more global need for action to preserve such essential environmental assets across the world. We all depend on the natural world for our survival, so every environmental issue becomes an issue for all. Second year of study.

Hiep T. Duong: ‘Rethinking corporate rescue law of Vietnam from the perspectives of England and Canada’

The research makes an examination into rescue models employed under insolvency legislations of England, Canada and Vietnam with the aim at offering Vietnam more perspectives in rethinking its corporate rescue law in the context of insolvency law reform where the new bankruptcy law has just taken effect since 2015. The research first deals with a theoretical investigation on which kinds of rescue model can be used to turn a financially trouble company around and how to establish a set of criteria to evaluate these models. From the light of these basis, it critically examines the rescue law of three selected states, namely England, Canada and Vietnam to see the strengths and weaknesses pertaining to the rescue models under these jurisdictions. Along with legislative examination, it recognises the importance of contextual factors such as history, tradition, and politics in shaping the rescue law and in deciding prospect of success of the rescue law reform in Vietnam.

In carrying out the research, doctrinal analysis is utilised to gain insight into the characteristics of rescue models in the legislation of the selected states: Insolvency Act of England, Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act (BIA) and Company’s Creditor Arrangement Act (CCAA) of Canada and Bankruptcy Law 2014 of Vietnam.

In addition to doctrinal analysis, socio-legal analysis is employed to investigate the influence of historical, traditional, political factors on shaping rescue policy and practices in each country. Finally, the research uses the comparative method to compare and contrast the rescue systems in the selected state as well as proposing what Vietnam should do to improve efficiency of its rescue law.

Komkrich Silathong: ‘Strengthening the Implementation of Anti-Money Laundering Policy: The Role of the Thai Financial Intelligence Units’.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the amount of money and assets laundered worldwide is between $800billion and $2 trillion per year (Ryder, 2012, p.2). This amounts to an estimated 2-5 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)(Council on Foreign Relations, 2013). Similarly, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has estimated that $1.5 trillion of money is laundered annually. It is estimated that 40 per cent of Thailand’s GDP, or US$2 billion, is laundered by illicit drug traders annually through financial institutions (Abuza, 2003, p.169, p.188, p.193).

Money laundering is a global problem that demands international cooperation, including Thailand, which may be achieved by implementing the international legal anti-money laundering (AML) instruments (Ryder, 2012).

However, the FATF sanctions any jurisdiction who do not implement its regulations. Therefore, Thai Government must acknowledge the threat that money laundering posed to the national financial system (Yepes, 2011, p.9).

In February 2012 the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) added Thailand to the country’s insufficient strategy to fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism (Blanine, 2013). The FATF sanction caused enormous damage to Thailand’s economy and global reputation (FATF, 2012). The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), Thailand’s autonomous Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), was established by the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) B.E. 2542 (1999) as a principle part of the Thai government’s national strategy in order to improve Thai anti-money laundering standard (AMLO, 2011,p.88).

Nonetheless, in some countries, political institutions and power have solid relationships to transnational crime, including money laundering (Council on Foreign Relations, 2013). The inappropriate interference and influence obstacle the operational independence that causes the failure of the implementation of international anti-money laundering standard into domestic legislation (worldbank.org, p.4).

Komkrich’s study aims to examine the anti-money laundering legislation of Financial Intelligence Units in three countries (e.g. Thailand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom). Next, it evaluates how effective Thailand’s Financial Intelligence Units have been in implementing international Standards into those domestic countries, and then it considers whether Thailand needs to implement further strategies against anti-money laundering. Komkrich attempts to explore the patterns of the financial intelligence units in multiple jurisdictions and compare Thailand’s style with such best practices. Its epistemology is social constructionism with interpretivist theoretical perspective. This study applies the doctrinal, comparative research and interpretive methods.

Rachel Thomas: ‘The impact on the right to a fair trial of attempting to eliminate the source of terrorist financing in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada’.

Money forms the foundation of any terrorist activity. Whilst the actual cost of a terrorist attack may be small, money is needed to support terrorist groups and to fund recruitment and training. Due to its importance, terrorist financing has become central to the international effort to counter terrorism. During efforts to counter the financing of terrorism, human rights have been side-lined in order to ensure that Counter Terrorist Financing (CTF) measures are swiftly implemented and permitted to be fully effective.

Whilst counter terrorism legislation in general has been the subject of some controversy surrounding human rights violations, this study is concerned with how the application of CTF strategies has negatively impacted the right to a trial in the United States (U.S), United Kingdom (U.K.) and Canada. By underrating the importance of this human right, the CTF regime has been left open to legal challenge regarding its legitimacy.

This research provides a comparative analysis of the impact of the current regulatory framework for the prevention of terrorist financing on the right to a fair trial in the U.K, U.S. and Canada. It explores and identifies the impact that CTF measures are having upon the constitutionally protected right to a fair trial. The research illustrates the importance of the ‘financial war on terror’ to the overall goal of countering terrorism and examines the evolution of international CTF legislation. It looks at how the UN, EU and FATF have influenced the measures taken to detect and prevent the financing of terrorism. The study explains what the legislative responses of the U.S, U.K, and Canada have been to the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11th 2001 and investigates whether a common policy between the three jurisdictions can be identified. The study illustrates the negative impact that the application of CTF measures is having upon human rights and highlights through the use of case law that the right to a fair trial is being adversely affected to the detriment of the legitimacy of the CTF regime.

Henry Hillman: ‘Money Laundering Through Virtual Currencies: Analysing the money laundering risks posed by virtual currencies, a case study analysis of the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia’.


This research analyses the money laundering risks posed by virtual currencies, to do this virtual currencies will be defined and explained, and their appeal to would be money launderers will be assessed. The laws of three countries will be analysed, first determining whether money laundering offences may be applied to the use of virtual currencies; the concept of money and property will be explored in each jurisdiction to determine whether an individual may be found guilty of money laundering if they hide their proceeds of crime using virtual currencies. Secondly the preventative measures of each jurisdiction will also be analysed; determining the preventative measures apply to businesses using virtual currencies. The aim of the research will be to provide a critique of the current approaches to virtual currencies and suggest reforms.

Georgina Bensted: ‘www.terrorist-financing.co.uk’

This is an overview and critique of international counter-terrorist financing measures since 9/11 and their application to tracking terrorist finances generated and channelled via the Internet. This is a comparison between four separate jurisdictions: the United States, the United Kingdom, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Nations. This thesis examines the effectiveness and appropriateness of certain pieces of international guidance and national counter-terrorist financing legislation, as well as the application and interpretation by national governments, courts and law enforcement authorities. By assessing three main ways of generating terrorist financing via the Internet - direct solicitation of donations, using legitimate sources as a front and cybercrime, the thesis aims to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each jurisdiction, as well as finding a balanced approach towards preventing terrorist financing and protecting the human rights of privacy and freedom of speech.

Demelza Hall: ‘Has the white collar crime of fraud played a pivotal role in the instigation of the Great Depression, the Savings and Loan Crises and recent 2007/2008 financial crisis, three significant financial crises of the last eighty years?’

The aim of this thesis is to examine if three significant financial crises – The Great Depression, the Savings and Loan crisis and the 2007/2008 financial crisis can be connected to the fraudulent activities of white collar criminals. Over the last eighty years the US and UK have witnessed rigorous overhauls of their countries’ banking and financial sectors, to combat the ever evolving operations of white collar crime. They have also experienced devastating consequences from the aftermath of financial crises due to the inconsistent way in which their banking and financial sectors are regulated.

The connection of these three financial crises and white collar crime is an area of the financial sphere not yet widely explored, making it an area ripe for study. Both the US and UK will be evaluated and compared, to assess whether their legislative and regulatory attempts to monitor their banking and financial sectors have ever been strong enough to tackle white collar criminals.

Sam Bourton: ‘A Critical and Comparative Analysis of the Prevention of Tax Evasion and the Application of Law and Enforcement Policies in the United Kingdom and United States of America’

High public deficits caused by the recent financial crisis, and revelations surrounding recent tax evasion scandals, have provided a fresh global impetus to combat tax evasion. In the UK, this has prompted a reassessment of the appropriate legal consequences for tax evaders. Sam’s research seeks to analyse the legislative responses to tax evasion in the UK to determine their efficacy. This will involve critically examining the problems inherent in prosecuting tax evasion offences under English Law, including the nature of the offence, particularly the distinction between tax avoidance and evasion, the nature of evidence and the ability to obtain it, the requirement to prove the defendant acted dishonestly and the methods used to attribute liability to the facilitators of evasion.

Additionally, the enforcement of tax evasion legislation will be analysed, in order to determine whether authorities are consistent in their application of law and policy. Prosecutorial policies, which may negate the use of these legislative instruments, will be examined to determine their purpose and application; specifically, the research will assess the basis on which discretion is applied and whether this is applied consistently in practice.

The research will be conducted using a combination of doctrinal and comparative methodologies. As such, the research will utilise primary and secondary legal sources and will undertake a critical comparison with the US approach due to their perceived success in tackling this type of financial crime.

Matthew Hall: Article 5 and Alcohol (except for football fans). Time to adopt a rugby approach?

Some commentators believe that current football related legislation has ‘criminalised’ the ‘ordinary’ fan, that is, supporters who have no intention on partaking in match day disorder (Gardiner, et al., 2012, p.576). Preventative policing tactics such as ‘kettling’ and ‘bubble’ matches of all supporters, not just those who wish to cause disorder, have been the basis for such concerns in respect of potential human rights infringements(James; Pearson, 2016, p.43), more specifically, Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which preserves the ‘right to liberty’.

Furthermore, under the Sporting Events (Control of alcohol etc.) Act 1985, alcohol is outlawed at football matches ‘in view of the pitch’, legislation created following the 39 deaths at the Heysel Stadium, Brussels, prior to a European football match between Juventus FC and Liverpool FC in May 1985 (James; Pearson, 2015, p.459).

Not only is alcohol forbidden inside football stadia, the British Transport Police, on occasions, implement ‘dry trains’, which forbid any one travelling on said train to a football match from consuming alcohol (Football Supporters Federation, 2015). This is regardless of whether you are attending a football match or not and is a prime example of football related legislation encroaching onto not only ‘ordinary’ fans, but civilians going about their day to day business.

There is a glaring disparity between policing and legislation when compared to other sports such as rugby. Media reports have highlighted instances of disorder at rugby matches, yet alcohol still remains permitted within the stadia, and fans are free to make their own way to matches without any potential infringements from the police.

As part of my research, I aim to observe the police in how they go about their methods at football matches and rugby matches, contrasting their approaches and how they respond to any disorder within rugby stadia (if any). Coupled with this, I aim to highlight how at rugby matches, the authorities deal with alcohol related disorder in comparison to those of football, and seek to establish if the response at rugby could be duplicated at football matches. I will use the same stadium as my research location, that host both football and rugby matches.

The police will be the same Force, the same stewards within the stadium, and potentially in some instances, the same sets of supporters who attend both sporting events. It will be of interest to analyse the differences to football on a Saturday and rugby on a Sunday. Following the conclusion of the Hillsborough Inquest, Pearson has stated that it is time ‘a grown up conversation was had’ (Pearson, 2016) in respect of football related legislation, including alcohol, and it is my proposal that seeks to be the catalyst for this discussion.

Amy Man: A Critical Assessment of Foreign Direct Investment and Food Security Through the Lens of the Right to Food, in the Context of Sino-African Relations

It is undeniable that food is essential to human life. In 2012, it was proposed by agencies of the United Nations that responsible investment is necessary to enhance the production of food. This is particularly important in the context of socio-economic rights, because adequate financial resources are needed to ensure their progressive realisation. This includes the right to food. As a result, states are obligation to protect, respect and fulfil certain rights, such as the right to food. Furthermore, they should create comprehensive policies that provide strategies for securing food for their population. However, do they always do so? Particularly when these states are trying to attract investment from China, which has traditionally provided investment without stipulating any social conditions on the recipient state The objective of this thesis is to provide a socio-legal analysis of frameworks relating to international investment law (IIL), the right to food and food security.

The thesis will ascertain the extent to norms protecting assets under IIL are afforded more protection than the right to food and subsequently food security. This will be contextualised in relation to Chinese investment in African states, focusing on Ethiopia and Tanzania as case studies.

Phuong LE: Foreign Agricultural Investment and Sustainable Development in Developing Countries – Comparative Studies of Vietnam and Cambodia

Foreign agricultural investment (FAI) relates to every pillar of sustainable development (SD). Countries concerned about SD confront multiple challenges in managing FAI. The overarching research question is whether FAI contributes to enhancing or weakening SD in developing countries. The tensions between investment laws and SD goals have been controversial as investment laws tend to favour foreign investors at the cost of local community.

The need to make the most of positive effects while simultaneously mitigating the negative effects on affected people and environment, and the need to balance private interest of agro-investors and public interest of host states and local communities has become a vital objective in governing FAI for SD.

Depending on this complex backdrop, promoting sustainable and responsible FAI is a partial solution to achieve SD. The main purpose of sustainable FAI is to provide equitable benefits to all stakeholders in a holistic manner: economic development,social inclusion and environmental sustainability. In seeking to promote responsible investment in agriculture and encourage SD, Vietnam and Cambodia face both challenges and opportunities. Increased investment in agriculture can accelerate SD and help to meet growing food security needs.

However, if FAI is not structured or regulated properly, it can also cause social and environmental degradation. Recent FAIs in Cambodia and Vietnam have raised concerns about the commercial viability of the proposed investments and their social and environmental impacts, including loss of land and livelihood for rural people, and environmental degradation.

While Cambodia has been overwhelmed by large-scale farmland acquisition investments, Vietnam has to struggle to find the innovation to attract FDI in agricultural sector. Problems in land procedures and environmental regulations for FAI have usually become contentious spotlights. The regular question is ‘Does large-scale agricultural investment benefit the poor and protect the environment?’. Thus, the extent to which FAI advances or undermines SD depends essentially on the linkage of investment regulations, land rights and environmental laws. It is crucial to identify and evaluate how these regimes are integrated in the investment legal framework.

Adopting comparative studies of Vietnam and Cambodia, the research addresses key issues in international and national investment laws, assesses the relationship of FAI and SD, and evaluates inherent problems in their current practices. Then the research provides recommendations for Vietnam and Cambodia to overcome the key challenges posed by FAI: developing strong legal frameworks and policies towards SD; building capacity for negotiating equitable agreements with investors; leveraging inclusive investments for greater SD outcomes; and mitigating environmental impacts while protecting local communities’ interests.

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