Staff at the University of Bristol are engaged actively in research and teaching relating to the dynamic subjects of labour law and corporate governance. Their work has covered various aspects of domestic industrial relations and company law in the UK, such as systems of worker participation in corporate structures, information and consultation procedures, protection from individual and collective dismissals, scope for trade union organisation, collective bargaining, and anti-discrimination law. They also have interests in comparative labour law, corporate social responsibility, EU social policy, and protection of workers’ rights under international and regional human rights instruments. Additionally, members of staff are investigating connections between labour standards and sustainable development, as well as protection of international labour standards through trade and aid conditionality. The breadth of staff expertise is reflected in the decision to introduce the LLM stream in Labour Law and Corporate Governance from 2008.
Professor Charlotte Villiers has written extensively on industrial relations and on Company Law, both European and domestic. She has also engaged in comparative analysis, particularly in relation to Spanish law. Her publications include European Company Law - Towards Democracy (Ashgate, 1998), and most recently, Corporate Reporting and Company Law (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
Dr Phil Syrpis is engaged in research which seeks to define the outer limits of European Union social competence and to explore the ways in which that competence should be sculpted. He is author of EU Intervention in Domestic Labour Law (Oxford University Press, 2007).
Professor Tonia Novitz is engaged in domestic, comparative and international study of Labour Law, as well as European social policy. She is also a member of the editorial board of the Industrial Law Journal, with special responsibility for the Recent Legislation section. She was author of International and European Protection of the Right to Strike (Oxford University Press, 2003).
This programme offers a range of units for those wishing to specialise in employment and company law matters. It provides an opportunity to study comprehensively both employment and company law aspects of modern business.
The Labour Law and Corporate Governance core units are:
For further information, see further material on the University of Bristol School of Law website relating to the LLM by Advanced Study.
The Leverhulme Trust has awarded the University of Bristol a three year Leverhulme International Network grant to enable research on a project 'Voices at Work: legal effects on organisation, representation and negotiation'. This comparative project, led by Professor Tonia Novitz (University of Bristol) and Dr Alan Bogg (University of Oxford), will investigate the relationship between law and workplace participation. Its focus will be on legal developments in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. A variety of events will be held and a website will be created to facilitate interaction between academics from diverse disciplines in these different countries. The aim will also be to engage with policy makers, including governments, social partners, NGOs and UN organisations. Please contact Professor Tonia Novitz for further information.'
Professor Charlotte Villiers has been working with colleagues in the EU on convergence issues, varieties of capitalism and labour relations. An article co-authored with Dr Daniel Komo entitled ‘Are Trends in European Company Law Threatening Industrial Democracy?’ has appeared in the European Law Review (2009). She is also working with a team based in Norway on the role and effectiveness of CSR.
Professor Tonia Novitz has been engaged in a large interdisciplinary project relating to the EU and the Social Dimension of Globalization, examining in particular the external relations of the EU relating to labour standards. An exploratory workshop on the subject was held in Lisbon (March 2007), for which proceedings are available, and a working paper. In November 2007, a series of events funded by the European Commission Jean Monnet programme was organized in Ghent. It involved an Academic Roundtable which focussed specifically on European Union trade policies and an Open Forum on the EU's role in the social dimension of globalization. The transcripts for that Forum are available here (PDF, 1.1MB). Research papers arising from these events are to be published in J. Orbie and L. Tortell (eds), The European Union and the Social Dimension of Globalization (London: Routledge, 2009).
This is the focus of the current research of Professor Charlotte Villiers, which is sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
The FORMULA project focuses on the Posted Workers Directive and the Services Directive and interconnecting issues and processes and aims at attaining, by way of comparative and interdisciplinary approaches, deepened understanding of how interacting political, legal, socio-institutional and economic logics are influencing the interplay between the different institutions and organised actors shaping supra-national decision-making and national adjustments in the emerging multilayered European polity, with particular regard to the formation, adaptation, and application of legal regimes in the labour market. Professor Tonia Novitz provides the UK dimension of analysis on this project.
This research project will be jointly led by Professor Charlotte Villiers and Dr Marc Moore (UCL, formerly University of Bristol). We have been grateful for the assistance of Olaojo Aiyebayo on this project.
Professor Tonia Novitz has been one of a number of labour law experts assisting the International Commission for Labour Rights (ICLR), especially as regards a complaint made to the ILO Committee of Freedom of Association by the Transport Workers Union Local 100 (New York). This complaint concerns the ‘Taylor Law’ which prohibits public sector strikes in New York State and addresses the punitive measures taken against strikers and their union in December 2005.
A conference was organised by Professor Tonia Novitz together with Colin Fenwick, Director of the Centre for Employment and Labour Relations Law at the University of Melbourne on ‘Legal Protection of Workers’ Human Rights: Regulatory Changes and Challenges, which was held at the Institute for Sociology of Law in Oñati, Spain in May 2006. This event involved the presentation of a number of national case studies, as well as discussion of international and regional human rights mechanisms and diverse regulatory innovations. The contributions to this book have formed the basis of an edited collection on Human Rights at Work: Legal and Regulatory Perspectives (Hart Publishing, forthcoming).
Dr Phil Syrpis has, during 2009-2010, launched a new research project investigating, in the internal market context, the relationship between Treaty interpretation by the Court of Justice and the interventions of the political institutions. The Posted Workers Directive 1996, Citizenship Directive 2004, and Services Directive 2006, and the case law which they have generated, represent key parts of this project.
A workshop will be held in March 2010 in Antwerp, and among the participants will be Nina Boeger, Panos Koutrakos, Ryan Murphy and Dr Phil Syrpis. The intention is to be publish the workshop proceedings as an edited collection; and, in the longer term, for Dr Syrpis to produce a monograph exploring the nature of the Court of Justice’s approach to constitutional adjudication in the internal market context.
Professor Charlotte Villiers is a member of the Corporate Governance sub-network of the European Commission’s FP6 Programme ‘Reflexive Governance in the Public Interest’. The group’s work focuses on the development of forms of regulation which engender a culture of cooperation between agents both within and between firms, both at the level of internal governance (stakeholder relations) and at the level of external relations between enterprises. In each case, the concern is to see how far a process of mutual learning and monitoring can lead to team-based economic coordination.
Exploratory workshops on this subject have been held at the Universities of Bristol (December 2006) and Cambridge (June 2005; December 2007) involving participants from the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Portugal and the United States.
Currently, Professor Villiers is working on a project on the enhanced business review legislation within this FP6 Programme and which will consider in part the relevance of the business review requirements for employee involvement in corporate governance.
Professor Villiers is exploring the issue of responsible ownership and how this impacts on the role of institutional investors in corporate governance. Their role in the regulation of executive pay under the so-called ‘say on pay’ legislation is a focus of analysis.
A conference on The Role of Labour Standards in Sustainable Development: Theory in Practice was sponsored by the British Academy and took place at the British Academy Rooms in London on 24 - 26 April 2009. This interdisciplinary conference was organised by Professor Tonia Novitz. Professor Charlotte Villiers also spoke at this conference. An edited collection of papers at the conference will be published in 2010. Podcasts of the papers are available.