The South African Research Chair in Property Law was awarded to Stellenbosch University in 2007 and started functioning in January 2008. The Research Chair, which is a Tier 1 Chair as part of the South African Research Chairs Initiative, is sponsored by the National Department of Science and Technology, administered by the National Research Foundation and hosted by Stellenbosch University, where it is accommodated in the Law Faculty.
The main purposes of the Research Chair are:
- to help develop the theoretical foundations for the development of Property Law in the new constitutional era;
- to develop a comprehensive academic text in which the implications of these foundations are worked out; and
- to help develop a corps of highly skilled young scholars who can take the development of Property Law forward.
In its efforts to realise these goals, the Research Chair functions on several fronts. In the first place the emphasis is obviously on the writing of dissertations and theses by its associated postgraduate students. As appears below, the first 5 years produced significant results on this front with 11 LLD and 10 LLM degrees completed.
Secondly, the Research Chair contributes to the formal research training of the postgraduate students, primarily by way of a series of regular seminars on property and related topics. Since 2008, the group has presented and participated in some 350 seminars, involving in excess of 15 000 pages of reading material and presented by members of the group and more than 50 guest presenters from South African and foreign universities.
In the third place, the Research Chair group participates in various collaborative projects, ranging from establishing and maintaining a library and data base, update projects and writing and publication projects. The list of publications below reflects the successes of some of those projects. Arguably the most visible product of our projects, the book series published as Juta’s Property Law Library, included 4 volumes by the end of 2012 and continues to grow. Between 2013 and 2016 several alumni from the Research Chair group will contribute volumes to this series, which should amount to some 20 volumes by 2018.
Finally, the group makes a point of building up research networks through research visits to foreign institutions, hosting postgraduate students from foreign institutions in Stellenbosch, attending and participating in conferences and hosting foreign guest presenters and participants in the seminar programme. Since 2008 the group has hosted some 12 visiting postgraduate students; in 2009 it hosted the first Postgraduate Day at the annual South African Property Law Teachers conference; and in 2012 it hosted the annual meeting of the international Young Property Lawyers Forum. The Fellows of the Research Chair, including prominent Property Law Scholars from South African universities as well as from law schools and faculties in the US, England, the Netherlands, and Belgium, have made and continue to make significant inputs in the progress and success of the Research Chair group through visits and presentation of seminars, contributions to our library, hosting postgraduate students in their institutions and advising them on the writing of their theses and dissertations.