Research excellence at the University of Kent

Kent Law School

The Research Excellence Framework also assesses the impact that the research has outside academia. The case studies below are a selection of the research submitted by Kent Law School.

Insolvency and consumer credit

Professor Iain Ramsay

Iain Ramsay’s research into personal insolvency and regulation of consumer credit is being employed to create new policies around the world. In particular, in 2013, Ramsay co-authored a World Bank report on personal insolvency that has been influential in reform discussions in countries including Brazil, Colombia, South Africa and India.

His insights provide a platform from which to rethink regulatory frameworks that are sensitive to the specific needs of demographic groups, and to the kinds of vested interests that might serve to distort or undermine regulatory goals.

A number of UK organisations and committees (including the Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills, and Office of Fair Trading) have drawn on Ramsay’s research. He has also advised NGOs and contributed to a working group for the United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection.

Developing environmental law

Professor William Howarth

Despite the clear need for sustainable management of our seas, rivers and wetlands, creating a legal framework that can deliver this in practice is an ongoing challenge. Much of William Howarth’s work challenges the traditional legal approach, which tends to focus on high-profile industrial pollution and criminalising those who contravene the law. Instead, he argues for ‘modernisation’ with an increased emphasis on the cumulative impact of individual lifestyles, as well as the idea of ‘purposiveness’ – using legislation to achieve specified environmental standards.

Howarth’s research has been influential within the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Most notably, it has contributed towards moves to create a more proportionate and effective enforcement system in England and Wales.


Housing reform

Dr Helen Carr

Building on prior work for the Law Commission, Helen Carr’s research provided the inspiration for major reforms in Welsh housing tenure. Working in collaboration with Professor Dave Cowan (University of Bristol) and Professor Caroline Hunter (University of York), the research provided evidence, inspiration and a legal framework for the new Housing Bill now in place.

Proposals included simplification, uniformity across tenures, and avoiding the diverse layers of housing tenure. It is thought the legislation could affect the lives of approximately half a million tenants and landlords.

Equality in development policy

Dr Kate Bedford

Kate Bedford’s work has highlighted the limitations of some development policies that address gender and sexuality. For instance, her research raises concerns about recent moves toward development policies that invoke sharing, loving partnerships between men and women. The findings show that these policies can also have the unintended effect of excluding individuals who do not fit this description.

Bedford’s work in partnership with NGOs has shown that sexuality is of greater significance to development practice than was previously assumed. Research commissioned by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) enabled her to challenge conventional wisdom and stimulate debate within large development organisations.

The Feminist Judgments Project

Professor Rosemary Hunter

Lady Justice

The Feminist Judgments Project (FJP) put theory into practice by engaging in a real-world exercise of writing feminist judgments for leading cases in English law. In doing so, the research demonstrated the extent to which women’s experiences and concerns continue to be poorly reflected in law.

The FJP was a highly collaborative project, with Rosemary Hunter’s research playing a major role in shaping it. The research generated wide interest among judges, legal professionals, NGOs, journalists and the wider public. It has also been used in higher education to provoke students to think critically about judicial decision-making.

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Last Updated: 11/02/2015

Banner photo (c) Simon Tollington, DICE