Guest Blog: New energy law initiative for the UK

24 Jul 2015

Legal expertise can be the missing piece in energy policy research. Barrister and University of Leeds academic, Dr Raphael Heffron, describes a new initiative that aims to build the UK's capacity in energy law research and practice.

The study and practice of energy law is increasing in the UK and internationally. The UK has long been a place for leadership in energy law research and practice. The Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee is one of the world’s oldest centres for research in the area. It has a very successful graduate education program with students from across the world and a well-developed alumni network. More recently, a number of other energy law centres have been established in the universities of Aberdeen and Queen Mary, University of London. In terms of legal practice, the majority of medium to large law firms now have specific energy divisions and in addition, it is now included as an area of practice when recruiting trainees.

Internationally, there are long established networks of energy law scholars and practitioners. Notably, in the US there is the Energy Bar Association (established in 1946) and in Australia there is AMPLA - The Resources and Energy Law Association (established in 1976).

Recognising the need for a formal network of scholars and practitioners, Professor Cameron (University of Dundee), Professor Angus Johnston (University of Oxford) and myself (University of Leeds) established a new UK Energy Law and Policy Association this April. The principal aim of the Association is to promote excellence in research, practice and administration of energy law and policy in the UK and internationally.

A key activity of the Association is to run an annual event that will focus on key legal issues facing the energy sector in the UK.  Our first annual event will take place later this year on 10-11 September. The themes for this first event are on 'Energy Disputes in Europe' and 'Energy Law in the EU: A Fourth Energy Package or an Energy Union'. This two day event will take place in Oxford and for further details please click here.

We have been encouraged by the support we have received so far and this is evidenced by the strong line-up of speakers that we have for the September conference, our first annual event. We have speakers from many of the leading law firms and barristers’ chambers in addition to speakers from the European Commission, the Energy Secretariat and several energy firms. We encourage non-law energy researchers to get in touch with us, whether it is for collaborative research, practice-based projects, or should they want to develop their own particular expertise on energy law and policy-related issues.

We have already developed key partnerships which we aim to grow over the first three years – and are particularly thankful to the three universities mentioned earlier, DWF, King and Spalding, and CMS Cameron McKenna.

Please look through the Association's website and get in touch with them. Dr Heffron is very keen to engage with the wider academic and commercial energy communities and should be contacted directly.