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UK Law Professor Completes University Research Professorship in Scotland

August 2, 2017

As the culmination of her 2016-17 University Research Professorship, Mary J. Davis, Brown, Todd & Heyburn Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law, served as a visiting research professor at the University of Edinburgh School of Law in Scotland.

While serving as a University Research Professor at the University of Kentucky, Prof. Davis explored the liability regimes for pharmaceutical related injuries. Because Scotland has a unique mixed common law and civil law heritage, and is connected to the European Union in ways that the rest of the United Kingdom is not, she decided to study the philosophical and doctrinal differences in these two legal systems, as well as the procedural differences in how liability is assessed and compensation is provided for pharmaceutical-related injuries. 

“One of the primary reasons the U.S. drug regulatory system is the way it is today is the failure of the civil justice system in the United Kingdom to respond to the tragedy of birth-defects in children of pregnant women who took thalidomide in the United Kingdom in the 1960s,” said Prof. Davis. “Several of the faculty members of the Edinburgh law school study tort law, or ‘obligations law’ as they call it. They shared their research with me, as well as provided me with a deeper understanding of the procedural differences.”

Although Prof. Davis did not have any teaching obligations while abroad, she was invited to participate broadly in the life of the law school. She participated in seminars with faculty whom are affiliated with the Edinburgh Centre for Private Law and in activities encompassing a wide range of private law topics, from the law of property to commercial law subjects. In addition, the United Kingdom Supreme Court heard arguments in Edinburgh – for the first time in its history – during her visit there. In honor of the occasion, the law school hosted a number of events that Prof. Davis attended.

“My favorite experience was having a fascinating conversation with Lady Brenda Hale, Deputy President and justice of the Supreme Court, about their recent constitutional law decision on Brexit. That was a highlight!” exclaimed Prof. Davis. “Of course, traveling around Scotland, Ireland and England comes in a close second.”

As a result of her visit to Scotland, she connected with a faculty colleague who has been very involved in her research subject from the European Union/United Kingdom perspective. He has been preparing a collection of papers to be published within the year, and asked Prof. Davis to contribute, to which she happily agreed.

“The connections I made while at Edinburgh have already proven very beneficial to my scholarship, and to my professional life. The Edinburgh Law faculty is a wonderful group of people at a world-class university and I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to visit there,” said Prof. Davis.