To all those reading this I am David Gibbs; I am a Lecturer in Law at the University of East Anglia.

I created this blog as a general out-let of ideas for my research, as well as keeping those interested up-to-date on my research and general interests.

I completed my PhD thesis at the University of East Anglia in 2014. The thesis was recommended for the award of PhD with no corrections. My external examiner was Prof. Simon Deakin (Cambridge) and internal examiner was Prof. Morten Hviid.
My PhD research centred on directors' duties and company law. The thesis was titled 'Non-Executive Self-Interest: Fiduciary Duties and Corporate Governance'. It was a doctrinal and empirical study on whether self-interest was suitably controlled amongst non-executive directors.

My supervisors were Prof. Mathias Siems, Prof. Duncan Sheehan, Dr. Sara Connolly and Dr. Rob Heywood

All opinions of any existing or future blogpost are my own. They do not necessarily represent the views of any of my associated institutions.
ORCID 0000-0002-6596-8536

Monday, 6 June 2011

Why? Academic or inquisitive child...

It was a phrase we all thought we had grown out of. That all important question, why? Fortunately, gone are the days where we would nag our parents to death with asking this question; yet the question is becoming more and more frequently in my daily wanderings. The more I read the more I being to ask, why is this?

My observation is this seems to be vital to contemporary legal academic research. Excellent research complies of many qualities but without this vital quality you may find yourself open to criticism - constructive or otherwise - (although probably unavoidable no matter what you write).

But it is becoming increasingly apparent that some legal research often fails to address this question, which has ignited and allowed to flow the discussion of legal research and what do legal researchers do? Lawless, Robbennolt and Ulen stated in their book on Empirical Methods in Law that "Empirists don't accept a statement or generalization about the world because an authority or expert says it is true, or because tradition and common sense say it is so, or because it seems intuitively plausible".

Lawless et al have summed up the importance of understanding the wider influences on social life and the importance of asking why. Academic research cannot merely accept a point-of-view because a judge concluded in 1927 that this was correct. I was reading a recent article the other day on a "pro-US" corporate opportunities doctrine for the UK and it failed to address this question. Although it cited a few cases that backed up such an approach it failed to address why the UK should accept a US-style corporate opportunities doctrine. It lacked evidence and an opposing side of the argument. Why should we accept what they said in case A rather than case B. Law is a social institution that is dynamic and constantly evolving to balance interests, maximise the value of the economy and respond to social change.

These changes have formed a fundamental basis for my own research. A conflict of interest is considered the most understood duty. Something I constantly hear from anyone I speak to on the topic or article I read. Yet, ever since the seminal case of Keech v Sandford in 1726 this duty has constantly been breached more than any other duty: and I ask you/myself, why? Why should we accept a case from trusts law to be the same for company law? Why should we accept a case from 1726 before Charles Darwin wrote the Origin of Species and the law was heavily influenced by the Church?

So, I encourage myself and any inspiring academic to seek out answers for their research and ask themselves why. With this simple question we can advance our knowledge in an attempt to provide answers.

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