In August 2016 the Registers of Scotland undertook to sponsor an LLM by Research student at the School of Law, as part of a year-long series of events and partnerships helping the RoS to mark the 400th anniversary of their oldest register, the General Register of Sasines. Michael Arthur was awarded the scholarship to undertake research on the topic of 'Publicity and Privacy in Land Registration in Scotland'. He is supervised by Dr Jill Robbie.
The following interview with Michael was originally published on the Registers of Scotland webpages
We last spoke to Michael Arthur, the student undertaking the degree, and his supervisor Dr Jill Robbie at the start of the course (you can catch up here if you missed that) and 8 months on we caught up with him as he nears the end of his course to see how he is getting on!
It’s almost 8 months since we last spoke! How are your studies progressing and what stage are you at now?
Things have been progressing well. For the first four months, I focused on Land Registration and a draft chapter has been completed. I had two very useful visits to Registers of Scotland, one to the Edinburgh office and recently to the new Glasgow office. This allowed me to meet with people involved in aspects such as Land Register completion, ScotLIS, Keeper-induced Registration and Registers Direct. Since February, I have been looking into Data Protection and the various pieces of legislation which place controls on how information held on data subjects has to be treated and what rights data subjects have. I have also completed the School of Law’s Research Methods course which culminated in me providing a presentation of my research to date and methodology used to the class. Dr Jill Robbie, my supervisor, also attended this presentation.
Have you had any more thoughts about what you’ll do next — you mentioned expanding your studies to a PhD?
At the end of last year, Dr Robbie and I worked on a research proposal for a PhD entitled ‘Land Reform and the Common Good‘ which would investigate the theoretical principles underpinning the redistribution of land in Scotland, drawing on the work of legal philosophers and their theories on property to examine how these relate to the land reform agenda and the concept of the common good. Applications for scholarships were made to the Arts and Humanities Research Council and internally to the University of Glasgow. Unfortunately, these scholarships are incredibly competitive and I heard recently that both of these applications were not successful. I have therefore applied to undertake the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice which is the qualification you need in order to pursue a law traineeship. I would, however, still like to continue my involvement with Land Registration as I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project.
What aspects of the course and research have you found most challenging, and why?
The difficult element of the research has been the sourcing of academic texts on various Land Registration matters. This has been for two reasons. First, land reform has been happening at pace and articles on recent changes have not been published in academic journals. I have therefore had to make use of blogs, consultation documents and newspaper articles. Second, property law principles such as publicity, transparency and numerus clausus have not received much focus by Scottish academics. Thankfully, Dr Robbie had a contact at Tilburg University, Anna Berlee, who provided me with some invaluable texts which had been written by Dutch scholars. In March, I visited Tilburg University to meet with Anna and her colleagues. This was very useful and helped to concrete my findings to date.
Last question! Invites to graduation ceremonies are always scarce… So who are you inviting and why?
Graduations… that is a tricky one. I would invite my wife and mother to attend but as they came to my LLB ceremony last June they might not want to go through all that again!
Michael is due to submit his thesis in September 2017 and graduate officially in 2018 — so we will continue to drop hints about being invited and bring you an update in due course!
~ Blog post by Julie Grant, communications officer at RoS