Edinburgh Research Explorer

Education / Academic qualification

1978Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh
Pleadable brieves and jurisdiction in heritage in medieval Scotland
1974Bachelor of Laws, University of Edinburgh

Biography

Hector MacQueen has been a member of the Edinburgh Law School staff since 1979, having also taken his LL.B and Ph.D at Edinburgh. Appointed to the Chair of Private Law in 1994, he was Dean of the Law School 1999-2003, and Dean of Research and Deputy Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science in the University 2004-2008. He is on leave of absence January 2010-September 2017, having taken up an appointment as a Scottish Law Commissioner.

Professor MacQueen has previously held visiting appointments at Cornell University in the USA, the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and Stetson University College of Law (‘Florida’s first law school’). He has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh since 1995 and was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2006. Professor MacQueen was President of the Society of Legal Scholars 2012-2013. He was Vice-President (Humanities) of the RSE 2008-2011 and was also a member of the Law subject standing committee of the British Academy and of the AHRC Peer Review College.

Professor MacQueen wrote the 1989 centenary history of Heriots Cricket Club, a work enthusiastically reviewed by no less than Alexander McCall Smith in chapter 6 of his novel, Love Over Scotland (2006).

Research Interests

Professor MacQueen's research and teaching focus on three major areas: (1) the history of law; (2) the private law of obligations; and (3) intellectual property. His work is generally centred on Scots law, but emphasises the significance of the comparative and especially the European context for a full understanding of the ‘mixed’ Scottish system and its future as well as its past development. It also argues that ‘mixed systems’ can help us understand the likely trajectory of European private law in the future.

In the history of law, Professor MacQueen has worked mainly on the medieval period. His doctoral research led ultimately to Common Law and Feudal Society in Medieval Scotland (1993, reprinted in 'classic' edition with preface and critical introduction 2016), and he has continued to build on that foundation since in a series of articles. Where the 1993 book focused most on the period 1250-1500, subsequent specifically medieval work has gone further back into the 12th century, highlighting the significance of canon as well as English law in Scottish developments, and considering links between royal and purely local justice in ever greater depth. The intention is finally to produce another book interpreting the pre-1250 period in detail. Also springing from the medieval research is an interest in how the period is treated in post-medieval times, with a central theme being its contribution to Scottish perceptions of legal distinctiveness (Scottish legal nationalism). A series of articles has highlighted in particular the contribution of Lord Cooper of Culross in the mid-20th century. A short book on Scottish legal nationalism is planned, pulling together the articles already published and adding to them the results of further research. Professor MacQueen’s legal history work has also encompassed the Literary Directorship of the Stair Society (1999-2016) and he was Chair of the Scottish Medievalists Conference (2007-2011). He was also Chair of the Scottish Records Advisory Council 2001-2008, and is a Vice-President of the Scottish Text Society (Council member since 1993). He is a Corresponding Fellow of the American Society for Legal History, and a member of the Law School’s Centre for Legal History.

Professor MacQueen’s work in obligations is mainly concerned with the law of contract and unjustified enrichment. He is the author or co-author of standard student texts on these subjects, and is also the Scottish editor of Atiyah’s Sale of Goods (10th, 11th, 12th and 13th edns, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2016). Professor MacQueen also recast the relevant chapters of the general textbook Gloag & Henderson’s Law of Scotland (13th edn, 2012) (of which he has been a General Editor since the mid-1990s). A new edition is in preparation for publication in 2017.

Three inter-related strands have developed his research in obligations: (1) membership of, first, the Lando Commission on European Contract Law (1995-2003) and then the Co-ordinating Committee of the Study Group on a European Civil Code (SGECC) from its inception in 1999 to its conclusion in 2008, which in turn led to involvement in the Co-PECL Common Frame of Reference project on European patrimonial law (here he worked especially on sales and services contracts as well as mandate, trusts and donation); (2) engagement with the law of other ‘mixed’ jurisdictions, notably South Africa and Louisiana; and (3) consideration of the impact of human rights on private law as a result of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998. The work also draws on historical and comparative approaches, especially in collaborations with David Sellar.  Professor MacQueen’s standing in comparative studies led to his election as a Vice-President of the World Society of Mixed Jurisdiction Jurists in 2002.

Copyright and design law are Professor MacQueen’s principal areas of interest in intellectual property, although he also carries out research on common law aspects of the subject such as passing off and breach of confidence. He was the first Director (2002-2007) of the AHRC Research Centre in Intellectual Property and Technology Law (SCRIPT). With Centre colleagues Charlotte Waelde, Graeme Laurie and Abbe Brown, Professor MacQueen has produced the first two editions of the innovative student text Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy (2007, 2010; now in 4th edn 2016). Research on copyright was focused mainly on the development of the law in the digital environment, criticising the apparent expansion of exclusive rights but also considering the extent to which copyright could or should be replaced by contract in this context. His best-known work on design law is Copyright, Competition and Industrial Design (2nd edn, 1995).  Since 2009 his research has focused chiefly on the history of intellectual property in Scotland from 1707 on.

Many aspects of Professor MacQueen’s interest in legal history, the law of obligations and intellectual property came together thanks to collaboration in and beyond the SCRIPT Centre in work on the protection of privacy as an aspect of personality rights.  Professor MacQueen’s expertise in intellectual property is recognised, not only in his long-standing membership of the Law Society of Scotland Working Party on the subject, but also in his service on the DTI Intellectual Property Advisory Committee (2003-2005), as Scottish Representative on the UK Justice Ministry Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (2004-2011), and as a member of the Intellectual Property Institute Advisory Council of Experts (1999-2009), the Legal Advisory Board of Creative Commons UK, and Intellectual Property Specialist Accreditation Panel of the Law Society of Scotland (1998-date). Professor MacQueen was an invited member of the RSA group which produced the Adelphi Charter on Creativity, Innovation and Intellectual Property in 2005, and played a leading role in the British Academy Review of Copyright and Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (2006).

Teaching

Professor MacQueen has successfully supervised numerous doctoral students in all his areas of interest (especially copyright): 21 have gained their PhDs. His present leave of absence means that he is not currently taking on any new supervisions. Professor MacQueen has examined 22 PhDs at other universities in the UK and abroad, as well as numerous Masters research theses. He has been an external examiner of taught undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at Dundee, Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Glasgow, the National University of Ireland, Sheffield, London School of Economics, Robert Gordon’s Aberdeen, Queen’s University Belfast and Manchester.

He also has an active interest in legal education, and has published an introductory guide to the study of Scots law, now in its 4th edition (2013). He is examiner in Contract, Quasi-Contract and Delict in the Faculty of Advocates (1997-date). He has been an invited external assessor of teaching and research quality at the Universities of Cork (2006) and Luxembourg (2008), and is a member of the Law Society of Scotland Law Schools Accreditation Panel (2001-date).

Websites

Research outputs

  1. Private autonomy and the protection of the weaker party: Historical

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

  2. Quo Vadis?

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  3. The future of unjustified enrichment in Scotland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Research activities & awards

  1. Contract Law Conference: Law Society of Scotland

    Activity: Participation in conference, seminar or training courseParticipation in conference

  2. Fifty Years of the Law Commissions: The Dynamics of Law Reform Now, Then and Next

    Activity: Participation in conference, seminar or training courseParticipation in conference

  3. Society of Legal Scholars Annual Conference

    Activity: Participation in conference, seminar or training courseParticipation in conference

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