School hosts conference on secured transactions reform

Professor Duncan Sheehan recently organised a conference on Secured Transactions Law Reform, hosted by the Centre for Business Law and Practice at the University of Leeds on 6 January 2017.

The conference was held in conjunction with the Secured Transactions Law Reform Project (, and Professor Louise Gullifer, Executive Director of the Project provided an overview of the Project and its current position at the end of the day’s proceedings. The conference attracted about 35 people and had a range of speakers and attendees from the Law Commission, BEIS, academia and practice from the UK, Germany and the Republic of Ireland.  The presentations from the conference can viewed online here.

The conference was opened by Professor Gerard McCormack, the Director of the Centre for Business Law and Practice. This introduction was followed by the first session which examined re-characterisation or registration of retention of title clauses (and other title financing devices) as in-substance security interests. Duncan Sheehan asked what would happen to priority and nemo dat rules if we did register or re-characterise them, and Richard Calnan put the opposing City of London Law Society view of how priorities ought to be reformed while not re-characterising or registering such devices at all.

The second session examined specific difficult asset classes and the means of taking security over them, priority rules and how the rules might be reformed moving forward. Andrea Tosato from the University of Nottingham spoke about intellectual property, Ed Murray from Allen & Overy talked about financial collateral – which, being governed by a European Directive, may (or not) be easier to reform post-Brexit, and David Quest QC from 3 Verulam Buildings spoke on the difficulties around taking security over more esoteric electronic assets such as crypto-currencies and bitcoin in particular.

After lunch, the third session examined different international instruments, comparing the Draft Common Frame of Reference, the UNCITRAL Model Law on Secured Transactions, dealt with by Ole Boeger, a judge of the German Court of Appeal in Bremen, and the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment discussed by Anton Didenko of the University of Oxford.

The final session looked at consumers and the impact and likelihood of reform over bills of sale, and possible impacts of expanding a Personal Property Security Act to consumers. Tamara Goriely and Daria Popescu of the Law Commission spoke on the Commission’s proposals for reform of bills of sale, and Sarah Brown spoke more generally on the effect of reform on consumers, in terms of third party effects and consumer protection against irresponsible lending or oppressive conduct by lenders. Francis Evans, a senior policy analyst at BEIS, then gave the current UK Government position on wider reform of secured transactions.