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International Commercial and Economic Law Research Group (ICEL)

The International Commercial and Economic Law Research Group was established in 2003.
The Group is comprised of researchers at the School of Law at the University of Limerick in various fields related to commercial and economic law.

On a practical level, commercial and economic law have a far greater influence on the everyday lives of citizens than many other areas of the law. Throughout the course of our lives, all of us will encounter the legal process in our economic activity on a regular, if not daily, basis. The regulation of economic activity is a crucial factor in most modern economies, being regarded as both a potential facilitator of economic growth and a balancing mechanism between the interests of the commercial world and the citizen. Thus the Group researches topics of everyday relevance including, but not limited to, the enforcement of agreements between individuals and legal entities, the liability of both private and state actors for harm caused unintentionally to others, the protection of legitimate commercial interests such as property ownership, copyright, and patents, the regulation of the employment relationship within a greater societal context, and the legal consequences of both professional and amateur sporting activities.

The Group is fortunate in that it has a strong network of overseas partners and contributors in these areas of specialisation, in particular from Europe and North America. This network permits both comparative research as well as access to an extensive range of expertise for our student body.

ICEL organises many activities including, but not limited to, conferences and events such as the monthly IP Law Café, Tort Law: Compensation or Accident Culture, Labour Law in the 21st Century, Drones and the Law: Coming to the Sky Near You, Reforming Insolvency, and Comparative EU and US Advertising Law.

ICEL also host numerous visiting professors which provide for an exciting community of scholars, including Professor William Murphy (University of New Hampshire), Professor Carol Rasnic (Virginia State University) Professor Christopher Symes (University of Adelaide), Professor John McKay (Seattle University), and Professor Steve McAllister (University of Kansas) among others.

The current Director of the International Commercial and Economic Law Research Group is Raymond J Friel and he may be contacted at  or +353 61 202348.

The following are faculty members of ICEL

  • Raymond J Friel
  • Una Woods
  • Eoin Quill
  • Eimear Spain
  • Laura Donnellan
  • Sinead Eaton
  • Kathryn O’Sullivan
  • Eddie Keane
  • John Lombard

The Group has a broad body of research expertise which is demonstrated by its significant publication record.

Faculty within the group have authored major works on tort, contract, tax, property, and sport law. In addition, faculty continually publish in international law journals, such as the Common Law World Review, International Comparative Law Quarterly, Fordham International Law Review, Arbitration and the Tort Law Review, as well as nationally focused journals such as the Irish Jurist, Commercial Law Practitioner, and Conveyancing and Property Law Journal.

Commercial and Private Law

Broadly put, this research grouping deals with general areas of commercial/private law. Our current focus deals with technological innovation and social change. The rapid advances in scientific knowledge are increasingly putting existing legal frameworks under increasing stress providing uncertainty for companies and individuals. Thus faculty and students in this group are currently undertaking research in a number of exciting new areas such as law, science, technology and innovation, employment and property law rights in a changing social environment, tort law, business organization, and animal welfare and the law.

Our current areas of expertise and research in cutting edge topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The impact of science, technology, and innovation on traditional legal regulatory and liability frameworks, including autonomous driver assisted safety devices (part of a EU Horizon 2020 funded project), drones, 3D printing.
  • Intellectual property protection, management, and exploitation including the new Patent Court, valuation of IP assets, medical treatments, and innovation, the role of employees in IP development, tort based liability for IP infringement, and the role of data protection and manipulation across new technologies.
  • The changing nature of property law rights, including the case for and/or implications of property law reform in such areas as family property law including succession rights, the importance of adverse possession theories and practice, the treatment of business leases consistent with freedom of contract as well as shifting concepts of property to include data exploitation and trespass.
  • Tort law, focused on accident compensation and private actions for the enforcement of civil rights, encompassing analytical methodology in tort, compensation culture, violation of privacy and state liability, including vicarious liability for sexual abuse, police liability, and public authority liability.
  • The role and legal regulation of animals in sports, including the historical evolution of the law combined with the advances in understanding animal physiology and psychology and the economic impact and constraints to legal responses.
  • The shifting regulation of business activities, particularly through competition (anti-trust) law, in an increasing digital environment and the changing social environment which requires new approaches to commercial wrongdoing and the increasing criminalization of commercial malpractice through the regulatory process provides interesting avenues of collaboration between commercial lawyers and criminal justice experts.
  • The ‘Uberisation of the workforce’ a term coined in the US to describe the phenomenon of crowdsourcing, i.e. sourcing skills/supplies from individuals who are chosen from large groups, all of whom have made themselves available for selection. The key point is that the traditional workforce is being replaced by online fora where potential workers tend to congregate  and essentially promote the idea of the workers competing with each other for the available work. The European concept of flexicurity may provide answers.

The Group has hosted a significant number of conferences and seminars in recent years. These conferences and seminars are popular with both academic colleagues and with the local legal and business communities. Reflecting the broad nature of the group, the topics of these conferences and seminars have included product liability, insolvency, competition law, employment law, insurance, sport and tort Law.

In addition, it has hosted a variety of lectures by occasional visiting speakers from other jurisdictions including the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia.

Distinguished Visiting Scholars
In more recent times, the Group has begun to host an annual Distinguished Visiting Scholar. In the Autumn of 2011, Professor Christopher Symes from the University of Adelaide in Austraila spent a semester at the University of Limerick. Professor Symes is a renowned expert in Australian insolvency law. For Autumn 2012, Professor Susan B. Richey of the University of New Hampshire was in residence. Professor Richey is the leading US expert in trademark law.

IP Law Café 2015/16
The School of Law and the International Commercial and Economic Law Research Group is pleased to announce the establishment of an IP Law Café. Designed for practitioners, business people, academics, and anyone who has to deal with IP issues on a daily basis or is just plain curious about the role intellectual property plays in the modern commercial world, the Café is a series of afternoon engagements focused around a specific topic with input from a recognised expert in the field. It is then followed by lively discussion among all the participants providing for networking, peer learning, and development in the crucial area of intellectual property. All IP Café events start at 4pm and take place in the Millstream Common Room on the UL Campus. Attendance is free and refreshments and finger-foods will be served.

The Future of IP: Cathal Lane, Tomkins, September 17, 2015
Patent  Registration and Protection: Gerard Barret, Patent Office, October 15, 2015
The EU Digital Single Market: Professor Robert Clark, Arthur Cox Solicitors, November 19, 2015
Employees and IP Law : Keeping Secrets: Eddie Keane, School of Law, UL, December 12, 2015
Valuing IP rights: Professor Bill Murphy, School of Law, UNH January 21, 2016
IP and Disruptive Technologies : 3D Printing explored: Kate Harnett, William Fry Solicitors, February 18, 2016
National and international taxation of IP rights: Professor Jeffrey Maine, University of Maine Law School,March 10, 2016
Protecting Patents: Michael Lucy, Patent Attorney, April 21, 2016

For further details contact Raymond J Friel, Director, International Commercial and Economic Law Group


Ray Friel
School of Law
University of Limerick
Telephone: +353 61 202348