New Professors in Contract and Company Law

02 April 2013
Susan Watson and Francis Dawson for news cropped
Professors Susan Watson and Francis Dawson

The Faculty of Law has appointed two new professors, Francis Dawson and Susan Watson.

Francis Dawson will be returning to the Faculty as a professor after 26 years in company and commercial law practice. He was an Associate Professor at the Law School from 1986 to 1989, having first been appointed a Lecturer in 1973 and having been an Associate Professor at McGill University and a Senior Lecturer at Auckland. He was a partner at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts (formerly Rudd Watts and Stone) for 17 ½ years, and has been a founding partner at Dawson Harford since 2004.

“It was my original intention to return to teaching. Somehow the years slipped by but the desire to teach and write about Contract never left. In recent years I have taught the LLM course on Contract, became one of the contributing editors to Benjamin on Sale (2008), examined consideration theory for Professor McLauchlan’s Festschrift and last year taught the Law School’s Advanced Contract course. I have now been offered the chance to teach and write on Contract as a full-time member of the Law School - what could be better?,” says Francis.

Bringing a love of his subject and a respect for scholarship, Francis returns from commercial practice wanting to focus his teaching on Contract, and various research interests including the role of the formal contract, the nature of objectivity in contract, the enforcement of restraint clauses after a termination, and the topic of remedies.

He looks forward to sharing with students his profound respect for the scholarship of former colleagues Professors Brian Coote and George Hinde, and enabling students to recognize the contribution that each made to the New Zealand jurisprudential landscape.

“If I succeed in this objective, the students will realise that they are part of a serious Law School, and will develop an instinctive respect for the role of the jurist and for legal reasoning,” says Francis.

Francis is co-author of Dawson and McLauchlan’s Contractual Remedies Act 1979, and a contributing author of the most recent edition of Benjamin’s Sale of Goods (2008). Among other publications, Francis has authored five Law Quarterly Review articles. He holds BA and BCL degrees from Oxford.

Susan Watson, who was already a professor in the Commercial Law Department of the Business School, has become a professor in the Law School. She will continue her research and teaching in Company Law in the Law School and will direct the Research Centre for Business Law, an inter-faculty centre with a focus on corporate and commercial law.

Prior to her appointment to the University, Susan worked for five years in practice including as a staff solicitor at Chapman Tripp. Since joining the University in 1991, her research has been focused on the nature of the company, the role of the board, and on directors’ duties and liability. She has published on these topics extensively in journals such as the New Zealand Business Law Quarterly (which she co-edits with Professor Peter Watts) and the New Zealand Universities Law Review and, internationally, in journals such as the Journal of Business Law (which she is New Zealand editor of) and the Law Quarterly Review. Susan is currently part of an interdisciplinary team studying boards as leaders. She is also researching whether corporate conscience is possible. She has an interest in law and economics and is studying the development of the internal rules in companies using this framework. Her most recent publication, the second edition of Farrar and Watson (eds), Company and Securities Law in New Zealand, is due on bookshelves in April.

Susan is also a highly regarded teacher having being recognized with a Business School teaching award in 2004. She holds a visiting Professorship at Vanderbilt Law School where she teaches a course on Comparative Corporate Governance. She brings strong leadership skills and expertise, having headed the Department of Commercial Law at the Business School from 2008 to 2010 and more recently having served as an Associate Dean.

“I see all three aspects of being an academic¬- research, teaching and service/leadership- as equally important. Taking up the offer of a chair at the Law School is an exciting opportunity to be part of a world class community of scholars. I am looking forward to imparting my enthusiasm for company law to students and colleagues and also look forward to assisting in the development and dissemination of commercial and corporate law research to the profession and to business through the Centre.”