Section: About the Edinburgh Centre for Private Law

About the Edinburgh Centre for Private Law

Edinburgh Centre for Private Law

Private law has been taught and researched at the University of Edinburgh since 1722. Among the many distinguished scholars who have worked at Edinburgh are John Erskine of Carnock (1737-65), David Hume (1786-1822), George Joseph Bell (1822-43), Sir John Rankine (1888-1922), Sir Thomas B Smith (1958-72), and WA Wilson (1960-94).

The Edinburgh Centre for Private Law (ECPL), founded in 2009, exists to foster and develop this long tradition of private law scholarship. Building on Edinburgh’s position as a major university within Europe’s main mixed jurisdiction, much of the research carried out by its members examines Scots law in a European context or fosters a dialogue between the civilian tradition and the common law.


The membership of the ECPL comprises those members of staff and research students at the Edinburgh Law School with an interest in private law. The director is Dr Eric Descheemaeker. The Centre has links with scholars in other institutions in the UK, in Continental Europe, and beyond. It is always glad to welcome visitors to its academic community.

Events & Research

The ECPL holds regular events (seminars, symposia and conferences), encourages research and informal discussion, and facilitates publication in the field of private law. It is also closely associated with the Edinburgh Law Review.

Its flagship annual lecture is the WA Wilson Memorial Lecture.

Postgraduate Study

Many ECPL members teach on the LLM in Comparative and European Private Law, an innovative programme allowing students to study private law at an advanced level across the divide between the civilian tradition and the common law.

For students considering postgraduate research at master's or PhD level, the Centre is able to offer supervision across all the main private law subjects.

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