The commercial law classification covers a broad spectrum of interest areas. We have specialists in company law, tax, labour, insolvency, securities, telecommunications, and e-law to name just a few broad fields of interest. Two categories are deemed so relevant in the broader context of the UCT law faculty's role in society that they each have their own specifically dedicated research unit. These units are the Institute of Development and Labour Law, the Shipping Law Unit, Centre for Comparative Law in Africa and the Intellectual Property Law and Policy Research Unit.
The Institute of Development and Labour Law
The Institute was established at the beginning of 1996 through the merger of the Labour Law Unit (established in 1987) and the Institute of Development Law (established in 1992). It is situated in the Faculty of Law. The objectives of the Institute are to promote research into the law relating to development and labour in Southern Africa, foster links and provide a reference point for scholarship and policy. It convenes conferences, seminars and workshops. It is also produces, either independently or as part of joint projects, several publications, including the Industrial Law Journal and the Southern African Development and Labour Monographs. The Institute also runs postgraduate diplomas in Employment Law and Dispute Resolution as part of the School of Advanced Legal Studies programme.
The Shipping Law Unit has been in operation since the beginning of 1993. The Unit was set up within the Department of Commercial Law to accommodate part-time and full-time studies in Shipping Law at higher postgraduate level, and to support the Maritime Law option offered to Final Level LLB students. The Shipping Law Unit provides postgraduate and higher postgraduate tuition and research in Admiralty law and practice and in all private law aspects of the law relating to the sea and ships. It serves as an information and advice centre to the shipping industry, and monitors developments in maritime law and policy in South Africa and abroad. The Unit co-operates closely with the Institute of Marine and Environmental Law which handles the public law elements of the Law of the Sea and related subjects.
The Centre for Comparative Law in Africa (CCLA) was established in 2011 to promote the study of comparative law and draw on the strengths of comparative methodology to research into the multifaceted field of law in Africa. The Centre presents an opportunity to develop a discipline that lends itself to optimal application in the pluralistic legal frameworks within which life is lived in Africa. In its mission to contribute to the development of comparative law in Africa, the strategy of the CCLA is to establish the field at UCT, build capacity in it across the continent through academic programmes, apply comparative law expertise in consultancies and disseminate new knowledge in comparative law in Africa through conferences, publications and professional networks. Its location within the Department of Commercial Law recognises the centrality of comparative law to ongoing efforts at economic integration on the African continent. The CCLA offers an LLM and a postgraduate diploma specialising in Comparative Law and conducts research on a variety of themes that apply the comparative methodology. The CCLA also provides support for Africa-focused doctoral research and undertakes capacity-building programmes in various issues of law in development in Africa that require comparative methods.
Intellectual Property Law and Policy Research Unit
The Intellectual Property Law and Policy Research Unit (IP Research Unit) was set up in 2007 as a centre for policy research and teaching in intellectual property law. The IP Research Unit believes that it is important that developing countries participate in the evolution of the Intellectual Property policy and law systems to ensure that any changes take full account of the needs of emerging economies and therefore can benefit them. The Unit and its members engage in research and teaching primarily in the area of new and emerging technologies in the fields of biotechnology, information science and technology, medical science and agriculture. As such, the Unit specialises in areas of intellectual property which include patent law, copyright law and access and benefit sharing issues. The debate on intellectual property law and global issues increasingly necessitates policy research and analysis which is relevant to addressing the needs of developing and emerging economies. South Africa has to play a part in defining the manner in which these new challenges are met.