From 15 – 18 July 2014, the Faculties of Law at the Universities of Hong Kong and Melbourne Law School will co-host, in Hong Kong, the Obligations VII Conference. The Conference will be devoted to discussion of divergence and convergence in the law of obligations in various common law jurisdictions.

Obligations VII is the seventh in a series of biennial conferences on the law of obligations. The Obligations conferences bring together scholars, judges and practitioners from throughout the common law world to discuss current issues in contract law, the law of torts, equity and unjust enrichment. The series originated at the University of Melbourne in 2002 and has become a significant international forum for discussion between scholars and practitioners in the field. The previous conferences in the series were:

Obligations I: Connections and Boundaries (University of Melbourne, 2002)

Obligations II: Principle and Policy in Private Law (University of Melbourne, 2004)

Obligations III: Justifying Remedies in Private Law (University of Queensland, 2006)

Obligations IV: The Goals of Private Law (National University of Singapore, 2008)

Obligations V: Rights and Private Law (University of Oxford, 2010)

Obligations VI: Challenging Orthodoxy (University of Western Ontario, 2012)


The theme of the conference

All common law jurisdictions have local influences that cause divergence in the common law, such as national and international human rights instruments, local statutory regimes, civil law influences, regional harmonisation, local circumstances and values, local cultural and political influences, and even, in some cases, a desire to express national identity by developing a distinctive local version of the common law. Have those localizing influences rendered it anachronistic to refer to the common law of obligations? Or does the “common” remain important as a stabilizing influence and a useful source of comparative perspectives? Is there something valuable and worth retaining in the shared heritage? Should ultimate appellate courts be slow to abandon principles that remain well accepted throughout the common law world? Does some divergence even strengthen the common law by rendering it more valuable as a source of collective wisdom and experience and a source of different solutions and different approaches? The aim of this conference is to explore these issues at the general level and at the level of specific subject areas and specific doctrines.