university of cape town faculty of law

university of cape town faculty of law

Commercial Law

The Department of Commercial Law covers a wide range of legal fields. Apart from the core LLB courses Corporation Law and Business Transactions Law, the Department is also responsible for the professional courses in Business Law, Company Law and Labour Law. In this way, the Department not only maintains contacts with other faculties at UCT, but every year teaches law to around 3000 non-law students.


UCT Law students have a wide range of commercial law courses available to them at both LLB and LLM levels, including courses in corporation law, revenue law, labour law, maritime law, electronic law, international economic law and international trade law.

A number of postgraduate study programmes are also offered, which enable students to pursue a degree or diploma in a specialised area of law. These include the Marine and Shipping Law programmes (offered with the Department of Public Law), the Labour Law Programme, the Comparative Law in Africa Programme, the Intellectual Property Law Programme and the Tax Law Programme. These courses not only attract postgraduate students from all over Africa and the world, but many practitioners enrol on a part-time basis, which enables the Department to keep close links with the legal practice.

The research interests of the members of the department are as wide as the selection of courses on offer. Apart from their own research, the members of the Department supervise research conducted by postgraduate students who are undertaking postgraduate study in commercial law, as well as those LLB students in their final year of study, who have undertaken to write their research paper in one of the Research Focus Groups offered by the department.

The Department keeps abreast with current issues and developments in the field of commercial law, and staff members make ongoing contributions to the body of literature available on commercial law in journal articles and textbooks on commercial law issues. Some recent book publications by the members of the department include:

  • Christie’s The Law of Contract in South Africa (17th ed, 2016)
  • Principles of the Law of Sale and Lease (3rd ed, 2013)
  • Reinventing Labour Law (1st ed, 2012)
  • Christies Law of Contract in South Africa (6th ed, 2011)
  • Chapters in Contemporary Company Law (2011)
  • Basic Principles of Business Law (2nd ed, 2010)
  • Harassment in the Workplace: Law, Policies and Processes (2010)
  • Shipping Law & Admiralty Jurisdiction in South Africa (2nd ed, 2009)
  • Companies and Other Business Structures in South Africa (2009)
  • Trade Unions and the Law (2009)
  • Civil jurisdiction rules of the EU and their impact on third States (2008)
  • Chapters in Wille’s Principles of South African Law (9th ed. 2007)
  • Managing conflict in schools (2007)

The Department is also involved in the University of Cape Town’s Acta Juridica, the 2010 volume of which had a new Companies Act theme, and included a number of contributions by members of the Department; and in assisting students to edit Responsa Meridiana, a journal published by the law students of Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Members of the Department also actively participate in the courses and workshops offered by the Faculty of Law’s Professional Development Programme.

Private Law

The research interests of the members of the Private Law Department vary widely and span the entire field of South African private law including, of course, customary law.

Areas which are currently the focus of the research programmes of individual members of staff include:

  1. the fundamentals of the law of delict;
  2. land law and land redistribution;
  3. the law of unjustified enrichment;
  4. family law;
  5. the law of contract;
  6. the law of succession;
  7. comparative law and the nature of legal systems;
  8. various facets of legal history generally; and
  9. the jurisprudential and historical context of private law.

These individual projects form the core of the research programme in the Department. In addition, larger projects which span the interests of different members of the Department are also undertaken. These collaborative projects make it possible to produce books that make a valuable contribution to knowledge.

Public Law

The Department of Public Law is responsible for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in specialised topics within the broad fields of Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, Human Rights, Environmental Law, International Law and Criminal Justice.

The Department is truly cosmopolitan in terms of staff and student composition and continues to produce cutting edge research in wide-ranging specialised areas of Public Law as well as conduct seminal inter-disciplinary and applied legal research. Some members of the Department engaged in different ways in South Africa’s transition from apartheid, and, as the country’s news democracy strengthens, they continue to explore, educate and advise in areas associated with human rights, good governance and criminal justice both domestically and internationally.

The Department’s research is also pioneered through its research units:

  • Centre of Criminology
  • Centre for Law & Society (CLS)
  • Democratic Governance & Rights Unit (DGRU)
  • Institute of Marine & Environmental (IMEL)
  • Land & Accountability Research Centre (LARC)
  • Refugee Rights Unit