Home > Research > Overview


Department of Private Law

The Department of Private Law has seven NRF-rated researchers. Members of the Department maintain a high rate of publication, which includes many international publications. Research highlights of 2013 are set out below.

First, several m embers of the Department presented papers at local and international conferences. For example, Professor Helen Scott presented a paper entitled 'Error and Uncertainty in the South African Law of Enrichment' at a seminar on comparative unjust enrichment organised by the Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law, at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Professor Scott also presented one of two papers at a seminar held at Edinburgh University in January 2014 under the aegis of the Edinburgh Centre for Private Law entitled ‘New Directions in Unjustified Enrichment: Learning from South Africa'. Her paper, 'Rationalising the South African Law of Enrichment', sought to present the thesis of her book Unjust Enrichment in South African Law (further details below) to the international enrichment community, situating the project in its wider theoretical and comparative context.

Second, Professor Hanri Mostert organised a colloquium on expropriation law in the Netherlands, under the joint auspices of UCT and the Groningen Centre for Law and Governance. The colloquium took place from 26-28 September at the University of Groningen and attracted 22 experts in this field of law from all over the world. Countries represented at the colloquium include South Africa, the Netherlands, the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Israel, Poland, Italy, Germany, Australia and Ireland. A grant from the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Capacity (PERC) assisted with making possible the attendance of additional South African scholars. The theme of the colloquium was ‘Rethinking the Public Interest in Expropriation Law' and it focused on six broad topics in the field of expropriation, topics which are of significance not only for purposes of South African law but also for many other jurisdictions. The colloquium was very successful, and a follow-up gathering is planned in Rome next year from 25-28 September. The papers presented at this year's colloquium are to be published in a book edited by Prof Mostert and Prof Leon Verstappen (University of Groningen) entitled Rethinking the Public Interest Requirement in Expropriation Law.

Third, on 16-17 January 2014, the UCT Law Faculty hosted a conference to celebrate the life and work of the late former Chief Justice Pius Langa, and event organised by Dr Alistair Price of this Department and Adv Michael Bishop of the Cape Bar and Legal Resources Centre. Twenty papers were presented by distinguished South African and international academics addressing a variety of themes in Justice Langa's judgments and other writings, including transformative constitutionalism, equality, customary law, the value of dissent, state liability, contract and the Constitution, privacy, and the relationship between the judiciary and other political actors. Personal addresses were delivered by Justice Albie Sachs, Adv Marumo Moerane SC, and Acting Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke. A selection of the papers and addresses will be published in the 2015 edition of Acta Juridica - the annual law journal of the UCT Law Faculty - in order to memorialise Justice Langa's immense contribution to South Africa's constitutional democracy during a crucial period in our legal and political history.

Finally, Professor Helen Scott's monograph, Unjust Enrichment in South African Law: Rethinking Enrichment by Transfer (Hart, Oxford/Oregon) was published in 2013.The same year also saw the publication Iniuria and the Common Law (Hart, Oxford/Oregon), an edited collection of essays (which Prof Scott edited with Dr Eric Descheemaeker).