The Department of Private Law is responsible for teaching several of the core subjects in the LLB curriculum. The main subjects taught are Family Law and the Law of Persons in the first year, Law of Succession, Law of Contract and Legal Pluralism in the second year, Law of Things, Intellectual Property Law and Law of Delict in the third year and Private Law in the fourth year. The Department also takes responsibility for teaching the following electives in the fourth year, namely Private International Law, Law of Damages, Trusts and Estates, Education Law and Child Law.
At postgraduate level the Department presents LLM coursework degrees in the Law of Contract, Child Law, Estate Law and Family Law. There is also an LLM in Private Law which presents students with an opportunity to choose from various interesting subjects in Private Law to obtain a coursework degree.
Prof Steve Cornelius presents the certificate course “Drafting of Contracts" through CE@UP. Prof Birgit Kuschke presents the course “Legal aspects of Project Management” in the Programme in Project Management through CE@UP.
The Department prides itself on its research achievements. Prof Johan Scott was awarded the prestigious Von Humboldt Stipendium and he and Prof Trynie Boezaart have on various occasions been appointed by the University Council as Exceptional Academic Achievers.
Judge Louis Harms is an extraordinary professor in our Department and holds the Adams & Adams Chair in Intellectual Property and he is also the coordinator of the LLM in Intellectual Property Law. He has been elected as an Honorary Master of the Bench of the Middle Temple. The Middle Temple is one of the four Inns of Court. Only the Inns of Court may call members to the English bar to practise as barristers. The name derives from the Knights Templar who owned the Temple site for 150 years. The Middle Temple has been a society of barristers since the middle of the fourteenth century. It was also a centre for legal education until 1852, when the Council of Legal Education was established. A Master of the Bench or "Bencher" is a senior member of the Middle Temple. To recognise exceptional achievement, the Middle Temple also from time to time elects distinguished lawyers and eminent non-lawyers as Honorary Benchers. This is an exceptional honour which has been bestowed on Judge Harms.
Prof Birgit Kuschke is talking about an issue few lawyers in South Africa focus on. Kuschke is one of a handful of legal academics who are working on issues regarding insurance against environmental damage. Having already worked on issues around genetically modified organisms, electromagnetic fields and toxic mould, her attention has now shifted to the legal effects of fracking. While many have voiced concern about the grievous effects fracking has on the environment, such as water damage and the migration of pollution, few have discussed the massive legal and financial ramifications, especially for the insurance industry.