UWA Private and Commercial Law Research Cluster

About us

The UWA Private & Commercial Law Research Cluster is a group of UWA Law School academics which aims to foster scholarship and academic discussion in private law and commercial law, both in respect of research and teaching.

Its predecessor is the UWA Law School Obligations Hub, which was established informally in 2018. The law of obligations is a branch of private law which organises and regulates the rights and duties (the ‘obligations’) arising between individuals. This ordinarily includes the law of contract, tort, unjust enrichment, property, equity and trusts, and remedies. The law of ‘obligations’ comprises a significant part of private law.

There is a rich and deep history of legal scholarship in these core areas of legal education and practice. Increasingly researchers in the law of obligations are combining doctrinal and empirical research methods and undertaking interdisciplinary projects.

Scholarship of obligations often touches on other areas of law, especially commercial law. The rebranding of the Obligations Hub as the UWA Private & Commercial Law Research Cluster embraces the practical applications of this rich area of law to industry.


The purposes of the Cluster include the following:

  • providing mentoring and support for teachers and researchers in private and commercial law;
  • sharing knowledge and raising awareness of current and existing research, and future research plans;
  • fostering collaborations in specific obligations sub-sets (e.g. ‘torts’) either in teaching and/or research;
  • developing greater capacity for research with impact across teams of private and commercial law researchers, including inter-disciplinary research;
  • enhancing research-led teaching and teaching-led research in private and commercial law; and
  • fostering collaboration between academia, industry and the judiciary with respect to private and commercial law.

Research projects

Community engagement

  • In March 2019, the Cluster organized a seminar for legal practitioners in the City. Dr Felicity Maher, Dr Ben Gauntlett and Mr Yannis Vrodos spoke on three recent private law decisions of the High Court.
  • In September 2019, the Cluster organized a seminar and panel event for legal practitioners on the impacts of the Banking Royal Commission on directors’ duties.  Two speakers from UWA were joined by a panel of two directors and a former Federal Court judge.
  • In October 2020, the Cluster hosted a webinar on Contractual Interpretation: Local and International Perspectives, where three eminent speakers discussed recent developments and topical issues in contractual interpretation in Australia and other jurisdictions:
    • Justice Kenneth Martin (Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia)
    • Joshua Thomson SC (Solicitor-General of Western Australia)
    • Associate Professor Solene Rowan (Futures Scheme Fellow at the Australian National University, formerly of the London School of Economics)

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