Prize Scholar: Timothy Liau

Timothy Liau

I am writing up my DPhil on the idea of Standing in Private Law, under the co-supervision of Professors Robert Stevens and Sandy Steel. My research interests are in private law and commercial law, and I maintain a wider interest in their philosophical foundations.

My thesis topic reflects these interests. Prominent lawyers have claimed that private law does not need standing rules. Yet, this seems implausible. If private law is obligation‐imposing, we need rules about who can sue on these obligations to hold their bearers accountable. Such rules are necessary, unless these obligations are enforceable by no one, or unless everyone and their grandmothers can sue. No one would suggest this to be descriptively true of private law today, whether in contract, tort, or unjust enrichment. The alternative answer: that we have implicit standing rules – appears much more plausible. One contribution of my DPhil, amongst others, is hence in examining their content and justifiability.

Merton has been a home away from home. For me, Merton stands out for its incredibly stimulating and supportive culture. The Fellows truly care about realising your full potential. The peer support is likewise amazing. I have benefited immensely from their company, kindness, and wisdom.