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School of Law

Research impact

Our experts undertake ground breaking research and advocacy work which helps shape the policy and practice nationally and internationally.

water droplet creating wavesWe identify opportunities to engage with a wide range of external users in specific areas of expertise that are particularly relevant to influencing policy as well as in areas where our research can have an influence on a wider community.

We have a strong, though not exclusive focus, on developing links with policy-making bodies, at both governmental and non-governmental (NGO) level, as well as developing links with commerce and industry.

Our researchers influence the legislative process where there is a current programme of reform in place, such as the reform of criminal law (both domestic and European) and the reform of civil procedure.

Our researchers also have an influence in the development of new approaches to policy in fast-moving areas of modern law with a cross-border or international dimension, such as banking, computer and intellectual property law.

Access to Asylum in the Mediterranean

The “refugee crisis” has brought into sharp relief the difficulties facing protection seekers in reaching safety. Global cross-border deaths have reached nearly 40,000 since 2014, with almost half the total recorded in the Mediterranean. Against this background, Dr Violeta Moreno-Lax's research has led civil society, policy makers, law-enforcement, and strategic litigation actors to recognise, at different levels, that extraterritorial border controls are problematic, as they impede access to asylum. The research has led them to acknowledge that there is a need for refugee-specific safe and legal pathways to protection, informing both the understanding of the problem and the identification of possible solutions. Engagement with the research has:

  • Influenced policy and law makers to recommend the adoption of humanitarian visas and similar actions that allow refugees to reach the territory of issuing countries through legal and safe means so as to request asylum without risking their lives;
  • Led grassroots organisations involved with ‘boat migration’ to cooperate and together establish SAROBMED, a new research-led observatory that monitors, analyses and disseminates data on human rights violations in the Mediterranean resulting in improved rescue and advocacy efforts benefiting seaborne refugees;
  • Shaped key strategic litigation actions in potentially paradigm shifting cases that may shake the foundations of the prevailing understanding of how and when human rights obligations bind States in extraterritorial situations concerning protection seekers, particularly at sea.

Cloud Legal Project - Responding to the Challenges of Disruptive Technologies

Disruptive technologies combining Cloud Computing, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence have disrupted the law and regulation of IT services, leading to much legal uncertainty and inadequate regulatory responses. Professors Christopher Millard, Ian Walden and Christopher Reed are long-established researchers at Queen Mary, specialising in information technology law. In response to these challenges, they launched the Cloud Legal Project (CLP) at Queen Mary in 2009, with the objective of identifying the legal and regulatory issues. CLP was the first legal research project focussing entirely on the Cloud, funded by inter alia Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and the European Commission.

The CLP’s research has had significant impact in three distinct ways:

  1. Informing the legal framework applying to Cloud contracts, leading directly to the shaping of law relating to contractual terms and the resulting empowerment of cloud users,
  2. Drafting legislation enabling law enforcement agencies to access data stored remotely by foreign cloud companies, and
  3. Shaping policy and regulators’ approaches to Cloud applications combining big data and artificial intelligence, leading directly to recommendations by the House of Lords AI Committee.

The direct beneficiaries of the research include governments, law enforcement agencies, the EU Commission, international bodies (esp. UNCITRAL), and leading businesses operating in the Cloud sector including Microsoft. The ultimate beneficiaries are Cloud users in general, namely consumers, businesses and governments, due to increased certainty and fairer regulation.

Find out more about research from the Cloud Legal Project:

Facilitating Access to Medicines: Patenting Strategies and Competition Law

Duncan Matthews’ research has demonstrated that patenting strategies of pharmaceutical companies lead to excessively high prices, block cheaper generic medicines and obstruct access to medicines. The research has identified ways to address this anti-competitive behaviour. It has:

  • equipped international organisations (UN, OECD), governments and NGOs with evidence and policies to improve access to medicines;
  • shaped the debate on the relationship between patents, competition law and medicines.

In particular, this research has been:

  • explicitly referred to as evidence in the final report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines;
  • used by ASEAN, UNASUR, China/South Africa and the OECD to initiate policy.

Further details about this research.

Improving the Effectiveness of Regulation of Online Gambling Services

The massive growth in inadequately or unregulated online gambling has had a catastrophic impact on many players worldwide. Professor Julia Hörnle’s research is helping to reduce the devastating risks of online gambling by strengthening regulation and its enforcement.

In particular, the research has benefited player protection and improved regulation worldwide through five key impacts:

  1. provided capacity building by providing evidence for regulatory priorities;
  2. influencing legal frameworks;
  3. assisting regulators to adopt more effective enforcement practices for better player protection;
  4. providing evaluation tools for assessing the effectiveness of regulation; and
  5. creating a framework for international co-operation.

By informing and equipping regulators in this way, the research has enabled regulators to safeguard online players using approaches or measures that have not been considered or available previously, thereby benefitting online players.

Find out more about Professor Hörnle’s research.

A Legal Framework for Paperless Trade

Dr Miriam Goldby’s research represents a key contribution to the achievement of digitalisation in international trade. The performance of cross-border sale transactions is still heavily reliant on paper. The current drive of the global trade community towards digitalisation is prompted largely by the desire to increase the speed and reliability of business-to-business and business-to-government communications to reduce documentation costs, which, as estimated by a recent World Bank study, constitute about seven per cent of the global value of trade.

Find out more about A Legal Framework for Paperless Trade.

The Politics of Judicial Independence

Professor Kate Malleson’s research, with her collaborators, was triggered by fears that constitutional changes were threatening judicial independence. The results informed and influenced key stakeholders regarding the relationship between the Judiciary and politicians – both in the executive and Parliament. As a result of the project:

  • both the Judiciary and politicians recognised that judicial independence and accountability are best served by more engagement;
  • the Lord Chief Justice was persuaded to provide a detailed report to Parliament annually;
  • Parliament had been given firmer grounds to be able to ask judges to give evidence before select committees;
  • the Judicial Appointments Commission in England and Wales revised its governance so as to provide greater protection for its independence; and
  • the Judiciary in Northern Ireland argued for greater judicial involvement in managing the courts.

Shifting the global discourse on the genocide of the Rohingya

Countdown to Annihilation: Shifting the global discourse on the genocide of the Rohingya by Professor Penny Green, Dr Thomas MacManus and Dr Alicia de la Cour Venning has analysed and articulated the precise nature of the persecution experienced by the Rohingya at the hands of the Myanmar state. The primary impact of this research has been in the widespread adoption of the term ‘genocide’ (as opposed to e.g. ‘ethnic cleansing’, or ‘intercommunal violence’) as the primary descriptor of Myanmar’s state crimes against the Rohingya. The main beneficiaries of our research are those making the case for genocide:

  1. the UN and international justice mechanisms – specifically Republic of The Gambia legal team at the International Court of Justice (ICJ);
  2. Rohingya civil society and advocacy campaigns;
  3. the global mainstream media; and
  4. sections of the UK Government.