Tenth biennial Obligations conference explores private law and the state

August 15, 2023

Aerial photo of Lake Louise Banff

Leading legal scholars, judges and practitioners from around the world gathered at the picturesque Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in July for the tenth biennial Conference on the Law of Obligations (Obligations X). The conference was hosted by Western Law and co-convened by Professors Jason Neyers, Zoë Sinel and Joanna Langille along with Obligations founder Professor Andrew Robertson of Melbourne Law School.

Professors Langille, Sinel and Neyers

Professors Langille, Sinel and Neyers

Obligations is the premiere private law conference in the world. The tenth edition focused on the theme of Private Law and the State, enabling participants to explore numerous questions concerning the relationship between private law obligations and the state as a public institution. Plenary session topics included public nuisance, property and licensing, the liability of public authorities for torts, and human rights and private law.

The event was a global affair with a total of 150 attendees, including professors from the universities of Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Melbourne, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Justice Kós of the New Zealand Supreme Court, Justice Edelman of the High Court of Australia, and Justice Newbury of the British Columbia Court of Appeal also attended to moderate the conference’s plenary sessions.

“The conference was, by all accounts, a tremendous success. The quality of the academic program was exceptional, the scenery was stunning, and attendees were delighted to gather in person,” said Dean Erika Chamberlain. “Many congratulations to the conference conveners, who directed all aspects of the conference and represented Western Law with professionalism and hospitality.”

The conference was generously supported by Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Hart Publishing, The Marcel A. Desautels Centre for Private Enterprise and the Law, Miller Thomson LLP, Polley Faith LLP, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. 

The Obligations Conference series originated at Melbourne Law School, where the first conference was held in 2002. Western Law was the first North American university to have hosted the conference (in 2012).

The eleventh Obligations conference Private Law: Inside and Out will be hosted at Harvard Law School in 2025. In the meantime, a collection of Obligations X conference papers will be published by Hart Publishing in a forthcoming book edited by Professors Neyers and Robertson.