As international relations evolve, whether through greater integration or through rethinking of the relationships between legal orders, so too do the rights and obligations of individuals and businesses evolve.  The Centre’s research contributes by responding to change, and by helping law and policy-makers to prepare for it. As a research hub at the heart of the major actual and proposed developments of our time – from an ever closer European Union, to Scottish independence, to Brexit – the Centre for Private International Law endeavours to anticipate major legal issues, and to deploy expertise to identify questions, and to provide answers.

Funded research projects

Reproductive Health Care and Policy Concerns: Regulation of Surrogacy Arrangements in Sri Lanka and Lessons Learned from the United Kingdom

This collaborative project on reproductive health care seeks to set up a learning platform on law and policy pertaining to surrogacy as a form of assisted reproduction and will address the evidence gaps in relation to the regulation of surrogacy arrangements in Sri Lanka. The project aims to assist Sri Lankan authorities in regulating surrogacy arrangements by providing them with the opportunity to learn lessons from the UK. Ultimately, the project seeks to prevent Sri Lanka from becoming the new hub of cross-border commercial surrogacy in South Asia. The project involves collaboration between the University of Aberdeen and the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

UK Surrogacy Law Reform: Exploring the Application of Surrogacy Laws, Attitudes towards Surrogacy, and Attitudes towards the Reform of the Law Governing Surrogacy amongst Judges and Legal Practitioners in Scotland

This project explores attitudes towards surrogacy and the application of the current UK surrogacy laws, including in cases of cross-border surrogacy, amongst judges and legal practitioners in Scotland. The aim of the project is to assist the Law Commissions in the current reform of the UK surrogacy laws

  • Funding body: Clark Foundation 
  • Principal Investigator: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Research Assistant: Dr Jennifer Speirs
  • Start date: 01 September 2019
  • Duration: 6 months
  • Project findings are available here: Project Report

Protection of Abducting Mothers in Return Proceedings: Intersection between Domestic Violence and Parental Child Abduction (POAM)

This collaborative project addresses the issue of protection of abducting mothers in return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 when these two instruments mandate the court of the State of refuge to order the return of the child to the State of the child’s habitual residence. Specifically, the project explores problems related to the operation of the Regulation 606/2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters and the Directive 2011/99/EU on the European Protection Order in the specific context of parental child abduction cases committed against the background of domestic violence.


Jurisdiction in Matrimonial Matters: Reflections for the Review of the Brussels IIa Regulation

This study aimed to consider whether, from the observation of the way Member States apply EU law and consideration of relevant literature, there needed to be changes to the rules in the Brussels IIa Regulation. To this end, the study analysed academic literature, as well as the judgments of the courts of selected Member States and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The study considered whether there is room for reform to improve the efficiency of the operation of the Regulation, as well as whether rules may operate in a manner that could be abusive to a spouse who may be more vulnerable, particularly due to financial dependence on the other spouse. This was addressed with reference to developments in family law which are designed to allow the spouses to achieve amicable outcomes. The study also considered the effects of the rules on the free movement of persons. Following analysis of national case law and academic literature, it was also considered necessary to address the position of same-sex relationships with a view to determining whether they should be included within the scope of the Regulation.

  • Funding body: European Parliament (Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs)
  • Principal Investigator: Dr Justin Borg-Barthet
  • Research Assistant: Ms Jayne Holliday
  • Start date: 01 January 2016
  • Duration: 6 months


The Evidentiary Effects of Authentic Instruments in Matters of Succession

The EU Succession Regulation (Regulation 650/2012) makes provision for the cross-border circulation of authentic instruments and, by Art.59, requires that a participating Member State which receives such an authentic instrument from another participating Member State shall, in a matter covered by the Regulation, shall ‘accept’ that incoming authentic instrument by allowing it to produce the same evidentiary effects in the State in receipt as it would produce and enjoy in the State from which it originated. The European Parliament was keen to discover what the law of the 25 Member States at issue considered those evidentiary effects would be and how well the Regulation could achieve its goal of facilitating their cross-border circulation via relevant legal practitioners. Building on Dr Fitchen’s existing international expertise in the area of cross-border authentic instruments, the Centre for Private International applied for and won the Europe-wide competitive bid application, Dr Fitchen spent much of 2015 and early 2016 working (together with Professor Paul Beaumont, Jayne Holliday (research assistant), the expert national reporters for the 25 Member States and also with Notaries from those legal systems who very kindly and without remuneration agreed to participate at the request of the Conseil des Notariats de l'Union Européenne (CNUE)) on this European Parliament funded project. As well as assisting legal practitioners faced with Art 59 of the Succession Regulation, the study made suggestions for law reform. The study has also been translated into French and German is available via the website below.

  • Funding body: European Parliament
  • Principal Investigator: Prof. P Beaumont
  • Co-investigator: Dr Jonathan Fitchen
  • Research Assistant: Jayne Holliday
  • Start date: 01 September 2015
  • Duration: 6 months


Aspects of the project findings were included in, ‘Public policy in Succession Authentic Instruments: Articles 59 and 60 of the European Succession Regulation’ Fitchen, J. Apr 2017 InDret. 2, p. 366-396. Further findings will be presented in Dr Fitchen’s forthcoming monograph concerning authentic instruments. 

Cross-Border Litigation in Europe: Private International Law Legislative Framework, National Courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union (EUPILLAR)

The project examined the application of selected EU Private International Law instruments in the Court of Justice of the European Union and in Belgium, Germany, England and Wales, Italy, Poland, Scotland and Spain. The key objectives of the project were to consider whether the selected Member States’ courts and the Court of Justice of the EU can appropriately deal with the relevant cross-border issues arising in the European Union context and to propose ways to improve the effectiveness of the European Private International Law framework.


In the course of the project, a case-law database was developed and is maintained by the University of Aberdeen. The database contains summaries in English of over 2300 judgments that were rendered between 1 March 2002 and 31 December 2015 concerning the Brussels I (Brussels I Recast), Brussels IIa, Maintenance, Rome I and Rome II Regulations and the Hague Maintenance Protocol in the Court of Justice of the European Union and in Belgium, Germany, England and Wales, Italy, Poland, Scotland and Spain. The EUPILLAR Database is available at

  • Funding body: European Commission (Civil Justice Programme (2007-2013))
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Co-Investigator: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Research Assistant: Dr Burcu Yüksel
  • Start date: 1 November 2014
  • Duration: 24 months


Project findings: P Beaumont, M Danov, K Trimmings & B Yüksel (eds.), Cross-Border Litigation in Europe, Hart Publishing, 2017

Conflicts of EU Courts on Child Abduction

The project examined cases where a non-return was ordered by the state of refuge under Article 13 of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. In particular, the project assessed how Brussels IIa Regulation is being interpreted in cases in the EU where the courts of the habitual residence of an abducted child override the non-return order of the courts in the State where the child was abducted by making an Article 11(8) return order.

  • Funding body: Nuffield Foundation 
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Co-Investigator: Dr Lara Walker
  • Research Assistant: Ms Jayne Holliday
  • Start date: 1 April 2014
  • Duration: 20 months


Project findings: P Beaumont, L Walker & J Holliday, ‘Conflicts of EU Courts on Child Abduction: The reality of Article 11(6)-(8) Brussels IIa proceedings across the EU’ Working Paper No 1, 2016.

Cross-Border Litigation in Europe

The project aimed to promote the debate on how cross-border litigation functions across Europe, and in particular in the UK, Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. To this end, the Aberdeen Centre for Private International Law, in collaboration with the Brunel University, run a series of 7 workshops which brought together Private International Law specialists from the EU institutions and the above countries. The workshops took place between September 2012 and August 2013, and were held alternately in Aberdeen and Brunel.

  • Funding body: European Commission (Lifelong Learning Programme, the Jean Monnet Action)
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Co-Investigator: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Start date: 1 September 2012
  • Duration: 12 months

Project findings: available at

International Surrogacy Arrangements: An Urgent Need for a Legal Regulation at the International Level

The project explored the private international law problems that arise from cross-border surrogacy arrangements in the absence of an international Convention on surrogacy.

  • Funding body: Nuffield Foundation
  • Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Beaumont
  • Research Fellow: Dr Katarina Trimmings
  • Start date: 1 July 2010
  • Duration: 24 months


Project findings: K Trimmings & P Beaumont (eds.), International Surrogacy Arrangements Legal Regulation at the International Level, Hart Publishing, 2013