Professor Alison Clarke

Emeritus Professor

Qualifications: BA (Jurisprudence), Solicitor


Further information


Alison Clarke is a property lawyer with a particular interest in the social, cultural and economic effects of different property rights regimes as they apply to land and other natural resources. Author of a long-established legal practitioners' text on land transactions (Emmet & Farrand on Title, jointly with Professor Julian Farrand) and a student textbook on property principles (Property Law: Commentary and Materials, with Paul Kohler, Cambridge University Press: Law in Context series, 2005), she has also written on a variety of property related topics, including communal property, indigenous land rights, diversification of property interests, acquisition of property rights by custom and long use, property and insolvency and property rights in ships.

Professor Clarke was Professor in Law in the School of Law at Surrey from 2008 to 2012, when she was appointed Emeritus Professor.  Before joining the School of Law she was a Reader in Laws in the Faculty of Laws at University College London and she has also held lectureships at King's College London and the School of Law at the University of Southampton. She started her legal career specialising in commercial property as a solicitor in a City of London firm of solicitors, and also spent two years at the Law Commission (seconded to work on the reform of Land Mortgages) and three months as a Visiting Professor at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo (2005). She has also taught on comparative property law courses at the University of Xiamen, Xiamen City, Fujian Province in China (2009), at the Faculté des Affaires Internationales, Université du Havre, (2010-2011), and at the Hanse Law School (the International and Comparative Law School of the Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Bremen University and the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, 2010-present).

Research Interests

Integration of communal and customary rights into local, national and transnational  property rights regimes regulating land, water and ecosystems, including land registration and land titling systems; communal and customary property systems and public access rights in UK and elsewhere; comparative analysis of fundamental property principles, with particular reference to common law, civil law and Scandinavian jurisdictions and developing property regimes in Southern Africa and China.



Emmet & Farrand on Title (Thompson Reuters 1986-present), looseleaf,  jointly with Julian Farrand.

Property Law: Commentary and Materials  (Cambridge University Press: Law in Context series, 2005), with Paul Kohler.

Current Issues in Insolvency Law (editor) (Sweet and Maxwell 1991).

Book Chapters

‘Property, Human Rights and Communities’ in Ting Xu & Jean Alain (eds) Property and Human Rights in a Global Context (Hart Publishing, 2015) pp 19-39

‘Land Titling and Communal Property’ in Warren Barr (ed), Modern Studies in Property Law Vol 8 (Hart, 2015) pp 215-231

‘Comparative Property Law: Collective Rights within Common law and Civil Law Systems’, with C. Godt in C. Godt (ed) Cross Border Teaching and Transnational Teaching under the Treaty of Lisbon (2013) Hanse Law School Series Vol 1 pp 61-82.

'Property Law: Re-establishing Diversity’ in Michael Freeman (ed) Law and Opinion at the End of the Twentieth Century  Current Legal Problems Vol 50 (Oxford University Press 1997) pp 119-154.

‘Security Interests as Property: Re-locating Security Interests within the Property Framework’ in J. W. Harris (ed) Property Problems: From Genes to Pension Funds (Kluwer Law International 1997) pp 118-129.

'Ship Mortgages’ in Norman Palmer and Ewan McKendrick (eds)  Interests in Goods (Lloyd's of London Press Ltd);  1st ed 1993, pp 74-100;  2nd ed 1998, pp 663-696. 

‘Property Law’ in Current Legal Problems 1996 Vol 49: Part I Annual Review,  pp 95-130.

‘Property Law’ in Current Legal Problems 1995 Vol 48 Part I Annual Review, pp 113-149.

'Insolvent Families’ in Harry Rajak (ed) Insolvency Law: Theory and Practice (Sweet & Maxwell) 1992,  pp 83-92.

‘Property Law’ in Current Legal Problems 1992 Vol 45 Part I Annual Review, pp 81-119

‘Corporate Reorganisation in the UK after the Insolvency Act 1986’ in Hazirlayan & Cem Budak  (eds) Turk Ingiliz Ve Abd Hukukunda Isletmelerin Odeme Guclugu Sorunlari Ve Banka Iliskileri  (Sanayi Odasi and Marmara Universitesi Avrupa Toplulugu Enstitusu, Istanbul) 1993,  pp 37-63.



Journal Articles

‘Integrating Private and Collective Land Rights: Lessons from China’ (2013) Journal of Comparative Law Vol 7 Issue 2 pp177-193

‘How Property Works: the Complex World View’ (2013) Nottingham Law Journal pp 143-154 

Book Review of Murota and Takeshita (eds) Local Commons and Democratic Environmental Governance (2013) in International Journal of the Commons Vol 7 No 2 August 2013 pp 575-576

'Property: Meanings, histories, theories’  (Book review) (2008) King’s Law Journal  Vol 19 No 3 656-660

'Creating New Commons: Recognition of Communal Land Rights within a Private Property Framework’ in Current Legal Problems 2006 (Oxford University Press), pp 320-358 (a revised version of a paper first  published in the Hitotsubashi University Legal Policy Research Report 2006, pp 39-72).

‘Use, Time and Entitlement’ in Current Legal Problems 2004 Vol 57 (OUP 2004) pp 239-275.

‘Ship mortgagees’ liability to charterers:  mortgagees fight back’ [2002] LMCLQ pp 462-465.

'Overcompensating for Disclaimer?: Re Park Air Services’ (1998) 2 CFILQ pp 248-263.

‘Mortgagees’ Power of Sale: Contract or Statute? - The Maule’ [1997] LMCLQ pp 329 – 340.

‘UK Merchant Shipping Legislation: Sailing Towards Consolidation’ (1994) LMCLQ (with Nicholas Gaskell), 8pp.

‘De Mattos v Gibson Again’ (1992) Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly  pp 448-459.

‘Children of Bankrupts’ (1991) Journal of Child Law Vol 3 No 4 pp 116-120.

‘Business Creditors and the Family Home’ (1990) Journal of Child Law Vol 2 No 2, pp 43-45.

‘Further implications of s. 36 of the Administration of Justice Act 1970’ [1983] The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer  pp 293-305.


Society of Legal Scholars, member 

Socio-Legal Studies Association, member

Environmental Regulatory Research Group, University of Surrey, external member.

SWIRL (Surrey Water Innovation Research and Learning, University of Surrey), external member.

The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer (member of editorial board, 2011 – present)

Modern Legal Studies (member of editorial board, 1993-2000)

Current Legal Problems (member of editorial committee, 1989)

Recent Conferences

Papers Presented

Creating New Commons Social and Legal Studies Workshop ‘Commons: Social, Legal, and Ecological Dimensions’ University College London July 2005.

Legal Responses to Insolvency: why English and US laws have moved in opposite directions Japanese Government-funded Young Researchers Conference, Hitotsubashi University Faculty of Law, Tokyo, Japanese-European Programme for Inter-communicative Training of Legal Scholars April 2007

Owning water: implications of legal ownership regimes  Environmental Regulatory Research Group Research Day, University of Surrey April 2009.

Property Law in China University of Surrey,  School of Law Seminars February 2010.

Property in water: reconciling private property, public regulation and collective use rights Workshop ‘Property Issues in Environmental and Natural Resources Law’, Natural Resource Research Group Faculty of Law, University of Oslo May 2010.

 Comparative Property Law: Collective Rights within Common Law and Civil Law Systems Workshop, ‘Hanse Law School in Perspective: Cross Border Research under Lisbon’, Carl von Ossietzsky Universität, Oldenburg May 2010.

Common law and Norwegian approaches to conflicting land use rights: the individual versus the collective ‘Challenging Ownership: Meanings, Space, Time and Identity’ at the Socio Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, University of Sussex, April 2011.

Land titling and communal property Socio-legal Scholars Association Annual Conference, De Montfort University Leicester, April 2012.

Land titling programmes: safeguards or jeopardies for local land users? Berlin Workshop on Revisiting Communal Land Tenure: Perspectives on Households, Families and Work from Below, International Centre for the Study of Work and the Human Life Cycle in Global History (Re Work), Humboldt University, Berlin, May 2012

Integrating private and collectives rights: can China achieve the impossible? Workshop on Law, Governance and Development: The Transformation of Property Rights in Land and Property Law in China,  Centre Of East Asian Law and Centre Of Chinese Studies, SOAS, University of London May 2012.

Impact of ecosystem services markets on customary land rights  Conference ‘Regulatory and Institutional Frameworks for Markets for Ecosystem Services’ ERRG School of Law & CES University of Surrey & Environmental Law Programme and The George Washington University Law School, University of Surrey  June 2012.  

Towards a human right to property  Symposium ‘The Public and Private Interface of Property Law’ King’s College, June 2012.  

Human Rights and Communal Property: from indigenous land rights to town and village greens Socio-legal Scholars Association Annual Conference, University of York, March 2013.

Property, human rights and communities XXVI World Congress of Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy Special Workshop ‘Property and Human Rights in Globalisation: An Engagement’ Belo Horizonte, Brazil, July 2013.

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