Dr Sean Thomas
LLB (Durham), PhD (Manchester)
Sean joined York as a Reader in September 2019, having previously held positions at the University of Durham (2015-19, Associate Professor), University of Leicester (2010-13, Lecturer in Commercial Law; 2013-15, Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law) and Anglia Ruskin University (2008-10, Senior Lecturer in Law).
He holds a PhD from the University of Manchester (where he was a Graduate Teaching Assistant). He also holds a PG Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Sean’s research concerns, broadly, the transfer of ownership of personal property. He approaches this fundamental issue by examining the interconnections of forms and methods of ownership and control of personal, real and intellectual property drawing on multiple disciplinary and methodological foundations. He has expertise in title conflicts (particularly comparative analysis with United States law), the historical development of commercial law, and the interface between goods and intellectual property. He also has a longstanding interest in radical property practices, and his work on freeganism has been cited widely across disciplinary boundaries and has attracted media and other interest.
Recently his work has concentrated on two areas of growing importance: circular economy, and smart technology. His analysis of law and circular economics is the first in the field; he takes a rather sceptical view of the legal implications of circular economics on the ownership and use of goods. He has also published work examining the interface between sales law and smart technologies; again, he is critical of the possible implications for ownership of goods.
Sean’s work has been cited judicially, by the Law Commission, and the Scottish Law Commission. He is a member of the advisory board to the Everyday Cyborgs project (LINK), and of the Secured Transactions Law Reform Project (LINK).
Sean’s current projects continue to focus on the contested ownership issues arising with the interconnection (or lack thereof) between different areas of law, with projects concerning smart homes, artificial intelligence and sales law, and waste, consumption and circular economics.
Sean is happy to discuss potential research projects in the following fields: