School of Law

Contact Details

Dr Sarah Brown

Associate Professor

I am a qualified solicitor and have worked in practice, and in industry, covering both commercial and private client work.

Having completed my PhD at Leeds in 2006, I took up my current post, and am the Taught Postgraduate Tutor, with responsibility for the postgraduates on our Taught postgraduate programmes.

I recently joined the editorial team for Goode Consumer Credit Law and Practice (LNUK),/p>

Research Interests

My research interests cover all aspects of regulation of consumer credit both unsecured and secured, consumer vulnerability, personal insolvency and consumer law more generally.

I am currently part of a team from the School of Law at the University of Leeds in a research project looking at 'Boosting growth through strengthening investor and creditor protection in China: How China can learn from the UK experience.' The project is in collaboration with the Management School at the University of Wuhan and is funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under its flagship Global Challenges Research Fund.  The principal research objective is to address whether and how growth in China can be sustained through development and reform of the financial and legal system taking into account both the historical experience in the UK and the interaction between the formal legal environment and less formal behavioural norms.

I was also part of the project team of a European Commission contracted Study on Substantive Insolvency Law. The project team was also made up of colleagues Gerard McCormack, Andrew Keay and Judith Dahlgreen from the University of Leeds. The team has now completed the Study which collected, evaluated and analysed insolvency law data provided by a team of national reporters in the 28 EU Member States. We identified areas where disparities in national laws produce problems that have impacts outside national boundaries: creating an environment that tries to avert business and personal economic failure but severely sanctions conduct that constitutes an abuse of the fundamental freedoms underpinning the EU legal order. This study will enhance the knowledge base of the Commission and set the scene for possible future initiatives by the Commission in the field of insolvency law.


At present, I teach on, and am the module leader for, Commercial Law at undergraduate level.

I also supervise dissertations both at undergraduate and postgraduate level in a range of subjects including Commercial Law, Banking and Financial Services Law, Land Law, Tort Law and Consumer Law.

PhD Supervision

I currently supervise dissertations in a range of Consumer protection issues including European perspectives, e-commerce and credit.

Key Publications

Journal articles

  • Brown S, ‘Consumer credit relationships - protection, self-interest/reliance and dilemmas in the fight against unfairness: The unfair credit relationship test and the underlying rationale of consumer credit law’, Legal Studies, 36.2 (2016), 230-257
    DOI: 10.1111/lest.12100, Repository URL:

    © 2016 The Society of Legal Scholars. The new UK regulatory structure for financial services is now firmly in place. This brings with it changes to the consumer credit regime, both in terms of regulation and supervision. The unfair credit relationship test is a sanction contained in the Consumer Credit Act 1974, and its future may well be subject to review as further reform to the UK regulation is actioned. This paper provides a fresh examination of the test's developing role in relation to protecting borrowers against unfairness and its application by the courts. The question is then posed as to whether evidence of underlying 'competing' ethics in both case-law and statutory policy suggests that the test will no longer be appropriate in the control of unfairness in relation to the credit consumer, when changes to the legislation and regulatory framework are concluded.

  • Brown SE, ‘EU and UK Consumer Credit Regulation: Principles, Conduct, and Consumer Protection: Divergence or Convergence of Approach?’, European Business Law Review, 26.4 (2015), 555-580
    Repository URL:

    The regulation of financial services is going through major reform both at European and national level. This article examines the specific case of consumer credit, the new mortgage credit directive, and how European reforms in relation to secured lending on residential property are exhibiting signs of change of direction in relation to the basis of regulation of consumer credit. Whilst at EU level, legislative control is still sector specific, there is an observable shift in the UK towards a single regime for financial services. An examination of the new directive is made, giving a comparison between this latest consumer credit initiative and concurrent reforms in the regulatory framework that are taking place in the UK. It examines the extent to which the EU and UK regulatory initiatives reflect similarity in approach, highlights potential difficulties, and considers whether overall this is a positive development for consumer protection.

  • Brown SE, ‘Protection of the Small Business as a Credit Consumer: Paying Lip Service to Protection of the Vulnerable or Providing a Real Service to the Struggling Entrepreneur?’, Common Law World Review, ed. by Clarke D and Stanton K, 41(2012).1 (2012), 59-96

  • Brown SE, ‘Using the Law as a Usury Law: Definitions of Usury and Recent Developments in the Regulation of Unfair Charges in Consumer Credit Contracts’, Journal of Business Law, 2011.1 (2011), 91-118

  • Brown SE, ‘The unfair relationship test, consumer credit transactions and the long arm of the law’, Lloyds Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly, ed. by Rose PFD, 2009.1(Feb) (2009), 90-112

  • Brown SE, ‘The Consumer Credit Act 2006: Real Additional Mortgagor Protection?’, Conveyancer and Property Lawyer, 2007.Jul/Aug (2007), 316-339


  • Brown SE, ‘European Regulation of consumer credit :enhancing consumer confidence and protection from a UK perspective’, in Consumer Credit, Debt and Investment in Europe, ed. by Kenny M and Devenney J (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 56-84


  • Brown SE, Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law (Publication Review), in Journal of Business Law, (Sweet and Maxwell, 2012) 2012.7: 643-645.

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