Accessibility statement

Sarah Wilson



Dr Sarah Wilson
LLB (Wales), MA (Wales), PhD

Senior Lecturer

Prior to this, I was a lecturer at the University of Manchester. I have also held academic posts at Keele University, the University of Leeds, and the University of Wales, Swansea. Following my undergraduate studies at Cardiff Law School, I studied history at the University of Wales, Swansea at master’s level and then obtained my PhD in legal responses and social constructions of financial crime from c.1850 to the present.



  • Trusts law, particularly: trust creation and mandatory rules, especially in commercial dealings; fiduciary office and its regulation using principles of equity (as modified by statute), trustee exemption clauses, and criminal liability; and Charity law
  • The social history of trusts law
  • Financial crime: looking at the nature of legal responses to “crime in the commercial sphere”, particularly at the role of criminal law in regulating business activity and enterprise, past and present
  • The regulatory aftermath of the 2007-8 financial crisis: particularly financial system resilience; banking regulation; ‘financial citizenship’ and poverty and financial hardship
  • Exploring the significance of history for the study of law in a more ‘global’ and theoretical sense.

I would welcome applications from prospectiveresearch students in relation to any of the above fields.


  • 1. Socially useful banking: banking regulation in the post crisis regulatory environment

This is a project looking at the regulatory aftermath of the 2007-8 financial crisis generally, and at reconfiguring banking regulation within this. It concentrates on the significance of banking for the UK economy, and also more widely as a social utility, and at how such considerations will influence and inform recasting regulation to make the UK financial system more stable in future, and thus less prone to shocks. In emphasising the importance of law in achieving this, much attention is given to financial crises during the 19th century to consider what they can reveal about the challenges faced and approaches which can be adopted in the 21stin order to promote banking which is ‘socially useful’. In explaining the nature of ‘banker blame’ for financial crises during the 19th century, the project points to how important framing legal responsibility for bankers was to contemporaries determined to respond to banker misconduct, and also determined to avoid the outcome whereby ‘no individual has been found legally responsible for ... failure’ (Lord Adair Turner, FSA Report on the failure of Royal Bank of Scotland, 2011).

This is part of a much larger project being undertaken (with aspects being so jointly with Gary Wilson, The Centre for Business and Insolvency Law, Nottingham Trent University; and also Joanna Gray and TT Arvind, University of Newcastle) on ‘banking and society’, focusing on the importance of financial system resilience, and of policies promoting long-termism in the economy and sustainability across numerous societal agendas.

  • 2. The importance of Britain’s history of financial crime for crime historiography

This project takes as its starting point recent endeavours which have been made to uncover Britain’s history of financial crime, observing that this small but burgeoning cluster of historiography is dominated by contributions from historians of business economy and finance. In a setting where historical interest in financial crime is itself only a relatively recent phenomenon, it is not surprising that interest in ‘crime in the commercial sphere’ (Law Commission) should come from business historians. What is surprising is how little engagement with financial crime there has been from crime historians.  This project considers the reasons why crime history has shown relatively little interest in financial crime, and considers why it is of utmost importance for the history of financial crime in modern Britain to become an integral feature of the historiography of ‘crime and society’.  

  • 3. ‘Enriching social science study with history: the case study of financial crime’

The need for criminology to seek enrichment from history in this way can be found acknowledged in Locker and Godfrey’s submission ((2006) Brit J Criminol) that ‘ ... white collar offending ... has suffered considerable neglect within historical academic discourses...’ and ‘while criminologists have [recognised and debated] ... the topic of white collar crime ... they have significantly overlooked its historical dimensions’. This project joins this together with crime historians’ own recognition of how the shared agendas of crime history and criminology calls for greater discourse between these two disciplines (King (1999) Brit J Criminol), and also historians’ more generalised insistence (drawn particularly from the writings of W H Sewell Jr, 2005 and John Tosh, 2010) that their discipline can make valuable contributions to studies of 'society today' carried out by social scientists. This exploration of how history can contribute to studies in key issues for ‘law and society’ is fashioned from primary research on Victorian reactions to financial crime, and the key historiography of modern Britain drawn from crime history and beyond.

  • 4. Trust Law, mandatory rules and trust creation in the commercial context

This project looks at trust law governing the creation of trusts in commercial dealings. It has two key starting points: firstly that trusts law is fashioned from two species of rules governing the creation and operation of valid trusts; namely mandatory and default rules (Langbein, 2004); and secondly the apparent popularity of trust arrangements in commercial dealings and relations ordinarily governed by contract. This project looks at so-called mandatory rules which cannot be displaced by those creating trusts, and how they are being applied in a new setting for trust creation. The law relating to private trusts grew up around family arrangements, far removed from the ‘arm’s length’ and profit-centric environs of commerce. With its core ideas clustered around Briggs J’s thoughts on trust creation in Pearson v Lehman Bros [2010], this project tracks the numerous instances where trusts law is becoming increasingly influenced by recourse to trust creation by contracting parties (rather than more traditional familial and interpersonal relations), and considers whether what is actually emerging is a new and distinctive body of trusts law and what the implications of this might be.

  • 5. Recent Conference/seminar participation/invitations
  • Conference participation and seminar invitation
  • The FCA and criminal enforcement: delivering “credible deterrence” and representing a departure from the “haphazard pursuit” of financial crime?’Seminar Series Centre for Business Law and Practice, University of Leeds, February 2014.
  • With TT Arvind and Joanna Gray, ‘Financial Elites, Law and Regulation: A Historical Perspective’ Financial Elites in Historical Perspective, European University Institute, Florence, May 2013.
  • Invited Panel Contributions
  • High Cost Credit and Payday Lending Symposium, Invited Panellist (University of Newcastle, July 2013)
  • CSFI Sponsored Round Table Discussion on Credit Unions, Invited Discussant (FSA, London, March 2013)


Selected publications

Key Publications

  • Wilson, S (2014, forthcoming) The Origins of Modern Financial Crime in Britain: Historical Foundations and Current Problems (Abingdon: Routledge)
  • Wilson, G and Wilson, S (2014) ‘The FSA, “credible deterrence”, and criminal enforcement - a “haphazard pursuit”?’ 21(1) J Financial Crime,
  • Wilson, G and Wilson, S (2013) ‘Criminal responses and financial misconduct in 21st century Britain: tradition and points of departure, and the significance of the conscious past’ (2013) 3(3) Law Crime and History, pp. 1-24
  • Wilson, G and Wilson, S (2013) The Pursuit of “Socially Useful Banking” in Twenty-first Century Britain and exploring Victorian Interactions Between Law, Religion, and Financial Marketplace Values’ 22 Nottingham Law Journal, pp. 53
  • Wilson, S ‘Tort Law, Actors in the “Enterprise Economy”, and Articulations of Nineteenth-Century Capitalism With Law: The Fraudulent Trustees Act 1857 in Context’ in TT Arvind and Jenny Steele (eds) (2012) Tort Law and the Legislature: Common Law, Statute and the Dynamics Of Legal Change (Oxford: Hart)
  • Wilson, G and Wilson, S (2010) ‘Market misconduct, the FSA and creating a system of “city grasses”: blowing the whistle on whistle-blowing’ Co Law 31, 3 68-81
  • Wilson, S (2010) ‘Fraud and the ‘problem’ of white collar crime past and present (and future?)’ in Nash, D and Kilday A-M Histories of Crime Britain 1600-2000 (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
  • Wilson G and Wilson, S (2007) ‘‘Getting away with it’ or ‘punishment enough’’?: the problem of ‘respectable’ crime from 1830’ in Moore J et al (eds.) Corruption in Urban Politics and Society, Britain 1780-1950 (Aldershot: Ashgate), 65-89
  • Wilson, G and Wilson S (2007) ‘Can the general fraud offence ‘get the law right’? : some perspectives on the ‘problem’ of financial crime’ 71(1) J. Criminal Law, 38-53
  • Wilson, S (2006) ‘‘Collaring’ the crime and the criminal?: ‘jury psychology’ and some criminological perspectives on fraud and the criminal law’ 70 (1) J. Criminal Law, 75-92
  • Wilson, S (2006) ‘Law, morality, and regulation: Victorian experiences of financial crime’, Brit J Criminol. 46(6) 1073-1090.

Other Publications

Specialist Financial Crime/Regulation Practitioner Engagement and Academic Interface Publications:
  • Wilson, S ‘High Frequency Trading (HFT) and Algorithmic Trading and the Criminal Law’ (commissioned by Jonathan Fisher QC)
  • Wilson, S International Section DPP (CTH) v JM 2013] HCA 30 [2013] Lloyd’s Rep FC (9) 645
  • Wilson, S International Section Joffe v R; Stromer v R [2012] NSWCCA 277 [2013] Lloyd’s Rep FC (6) 407
  • Wilson, S 7722656 Canada Inc (Formerly Carrying On Business as Swift Trade Inc)  and  Peter Beck Third Party v Financial Services Authority [2013] Lloyd’s Rep FC (6)381
  • Wilson, S International Section: Insider Dealing Update [2013] Lloyd’s Rep FC (3) 181
  • Wilson, S International Section, Re Donald [2012] Lloyd’s Rep FC (9) 626
  • Wilson, S International Section, US v Malewicka (US Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit, No 10–3967) [2012] Lloyd’s Rep FC (6) 432
  • Wilson, S Pye Phyo Tay Za v Council of the European Union (Case C‑376/10 P) [2012] Lloyd’s Rep FC (5) 305
  • Wilson, S SOCA v Hymans & Ors [2011] EWHC 3332 (QB) [2012] Lloyd’s Rep FC (3) 199
 Teaching focused scholarship:
  • Wilson, S Todd and Wilson’s Textbook on Trusts (Oxford, OUP 2013): 11th edition (editions 7, 8, 9, 10 all under my sole authorship)



  • Undergraduate compulsory Dissertation module
  • Undergraduate optional modules in Law and History and Financial Crime
  • Delivery as part of the Property teaching team on undergraduate modules in Property 1 and Property 2
  • Undergraduate research training in historical enquiry for legal research


  • Introduction to understanding the role of Equity in commerce for LLM students
  • Doctoral training in historical enquiry for legal research

External activities


  • Society for Legal Scholars
  • Royal Historical Society
  • Social History Society
  • Economic History Society

Editorial duties

  • Editorial Board Member of Lloyds Law Reports (Financial Crime)
  • White Rose College of the Arts & Humanties (WRoCAH) Peer Review - College Reviewer
  • Directorof SOLON: A network of those working in social sciences seeking interdisciplinary partnerships with others with similar interests
  • Consultant Expert for the BBC 1 Series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’
  • Peer Reviewer for Routledge Law and Historical Research
  • External Examiner: School of Law, Liverpool John Moores University

Contact details

Dr Sarah Wilson
York Law School

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 5809