Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Law

Professor Duncan Sheehan

Professor of Business Law

I joined the Law School in January 2016 after 14 years at the University of East Anglia, where I was, successively, lecturer and senior lecturer in law and finally Professor of Commercial Law. I am a graduate of Oxford University where I completed my doctorate on payments by mistake of law under the supervision of the late Professor Birks. I am the Postgraduate Research Tutor for the Law School, and a member of the Senior Management Team.

I am a member of the Society of Legal Scholars Executive Committee, a member of the Secured Transactions Law Reform Project, and an academic member of the Chancery Bar Association. I am also on Advisory Groups to respectively the Law Commission’s Bills of Sale Project and to the City of London Law Society’s Secured Transactions Code Project. I was appointed to the AHRC Peer Review College in June 2014 and my term will end in December 2017.

I was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland in March and April 2014. 

Research Interests

I am interested in trusts and personal property law, especially secured transactions law. I am also interested in the law of unjust enrichment, and examine many of the issues involved from a comparative perspective, looking particularly at the mixed jurisdictions: Scotland and South Africa.

I also examine the underlying philosophical rationale for the law of unjust enrichment and specific unjust factors, and have an especial recent interest in the application of the philosophy of action to the law, although I have a wider interest in private law theory more generally.  


I teach Trusts at undergraduate level and International Credit & Security Law, and International Trade Finance at postgraduate level

PhD Supervision

I would be happy to receive PhD applications in the areas of personal property, trusts and unjust enrichment, and also private law theory more generally. 

Key Publications


R Pattenden and D Sheehan (eds) The Law of Professional-Client Confidentiality (2nd edn OUP Oxford 2016)

D Sheehan The Principles of Personal Property Law (Hart Oxford 2011)

Journal Articles

D Sheehan ‘Defendant-Sided Unjust Factors’ (2016) 36 Legal Studies 415-437

D Sheehan ‘Mistake, Failure of Consideration and the Planning Theory of Intention’ (2015) 28 Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 155-181

D Sheehan and TT Arvind ‘Private Law Theory and Taxonomy: Reframing the Debate’ (2015) 35 Legal Studies 480-501 

Media Contact Areas

I am happy to be contacted on any matters related to property law, commercial law and the law related to credit and borrowing, particularly in the areas listed above. 

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