Professor Duncan Sheehan

Professor Duncan Sheehan


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, and where I was for three years deputy Head of School. I joined UEA from doing my doctorate on payments by mistake of law at the University of Oxford under the supervision of the late Professor Peter Birks after completing both my undergraduate degree and the BCL there. I have held two major leadership roles within the School, most recently as REF 2021 Unit of Assessment Lead, and previously as the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies in which role I was a member of the School Management Team. I am currently Vice-President of the Society of Legal Scholars and will be President of the Society in the academic year 2024-2025, taking up office on 1 October 2024. The Society is one of the largest learned societies in the UK with about 3000 members and puts on an annual conference held in September of each year at the home institution of the President. I have previously been the Honorary Membership Secretary of the Society, a member of its Research Committee, subject section convenor for restitution and while at UEA I acted as council representative for 10 years from 2006.

I am an academic member of the Chancery Bar Association, have worked with the City of London Law Society on its Secured Transactions Code Project, and with the Law Commission on the Advisory Group for their Bills of Sale Project, and their Electronic Trade Documents project. I was appointed to the AHRC Peer Review College in June 2014. I was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland in March and April 2014.

Secured Transactions Law Reform Project
Society of Legal Scholars
Chancery Bar


  • REF Reading Group

Research interests

I am interested in trusts and personal property law, especially secured transactions law. Within personal property law I am increasingly interested in the private law treatment of crypto-assets such as bitcoin or non-fungible tokens. 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 applied philosophical theories of action and intention to the law, although I have a wider interest in private law theory more generally. I was interviewed by Jim Baxter for a podcast on Ethics Untangled on “Is Unjust Enrichment a Thing?” released in November 2023

Selected works of Duncan Sheehan

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Society of Legal Scholars
  • Chancery Bar Association

Student education

I teach Trusts at undergraduate level and International Credit & Security Law, and Principles of International Finance at postgraduate level.

I have also taught widely across commercial and private law subjects including at PG level, International Trade Finance and at UG level, Contract, Land Law, Restitution, Company law and Commercial law.

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Business Law and Practice

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>