Dr Simpson joined the School of Law as a Lecturer in September 2010, following three years as a doctoral student at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. His postgraduate studies concerned perceptions of legal authority in Scotland during the sixteenth century. His research interests include Scottish and European legal history, with a particular focus on the history of legal thought, and he is the co-author of Scottish Legal History Volume One: 1000-1707 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017). He is also interested in Property law and the law of Succession.
While in Cambridge, Dr Simpson supervised Civil Law Part 1A for Caius College for the academic year 2009-2010. He is currently involved in teaching the following undergraduate courses: Legal System, Foundations of Private Law, Scottish Legal History, Scottish Legal History (Honours), Company Law (Honours), An Introduction to Comparative Law, Commercial Organisations and Insolvency (specifically Company Law) and European Legal History (Honours). He co-ordinates the LLM (Taught) Dissertation. In the past he has also contributed to the teaching of the following courses - Case Studies in Law and Society, Legal Method, Property Law, Business Law 1, An Introduction to European Legal Systems, Succession and Trusts, Conveyancing, Legal History in Recent Court Practice (Honours), Roman Law (Honours) and Corporeal Moveable Property (Honours). He also co-teaches a course on comparing legal cultures in the Law Faculty at the University of Bergen in Norway.
Dr Simpson is also a Trustee and the Treasurer of the Society for Scottish Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and a member of the Council of the Stair Society. In 2016 he became an assistant editor of Gloag and Henderson: The Law Scotland, now published in its fourteenth edition. Between November 2011 and November 2014 he was the Book Review Editor of the Edinburgh Law Review. He organised the Law School’s annual Matriculation Dinner for new students between 2011 and 2016. Currently, he is an elected member of Senate at Aberdeen University, and he serves as an Erasmus GoAbroad Tutor within the School of Law. He was promoted to his present position of Senior Lecturer in Law in August 2017. In December 2018, he became the first Director of the new Centre for Scots Law at Aberdeen University - see https://www.abdn.ac.uk/law/research/centre-for-scots-law-685.php .
Dr Simpson is interested in supervising research students studying legal history, Scots Property law or Scots Succession law.
Dr Simpson's main research focuses on jurists' concepts of legal "authority" in sixteenth century Scotland. For them, what was it that gave the law its binding force? Did they believe that what they collectively recognised to be just possessed legal authority? Or did they follow Bodin in thinking that all law-making depended upon an exercise of sovereignty?
Examining these questions draws attention to other fields of research. How did jurists' perceptions of legal authority impact on practice in the courts, if at all? And did the ways in which lawyers conceptualised legal authority affect their understanding of the foundations and limits of Scottish royal power? Answering this last question may help historians to establish the legal context in which George Buchanan wrote his famous De Iure Regni Apud Scotos.
Dr Simpson is also interested in the modern law governing moveable property in Scotland. He is currently researching the presumption that the possessor of a moveable is its owner. In addition, he is a member of the team appointed to revise the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia volume on Delict and Unjustified Enrichment.
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Conference Papers and Presentations
Simpson, ARC. (2017). ‘Life and the Law in Medieval Aberdeen: As Attested by the Court Roll of 1317’, 20th November 2017, presented at a celebration of seven hundred years since the composition of the 1317 court roll, Aberdeen Town House, Aberdeen
Simpson, ARC. (2017). ‘The Invention of New Law in the Poetry of Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington (ca.1496-1586)’, 31st January 2017, presented to the Oxford Legalism Seminar Series, Keble College, Oxford University
Simpson, ARC. (2016). ‘James Balfour’, 2nd June 2016, presented at the University of Aberdeen Centre for Civil Law Symposium ‘Legal Literature in Sixteenth Century Scotland’, Humanity Manse, University of Aberdeen
Simpson, ARC. (2014). ‘Dispute Resolution in Medieval Scotland to 1214: From Legal Diversity to (Some) Legal Commonality’, 20th November 2014, presented to the Centre for Legal Culture at the Faculty of Law, Bergen University
Simpson, ARC. (2013). ‘Prescription, Legal Learning and the Extinction of Rights in Scotland, 1469-1650’, 20th December 2013, presented at "Praescriptione Omnia Iura Tolluntur", a workshop funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung in preparation for the publication of the next volume in the series Comparative Legal History, Amsterdam (publication forthcoming, 2017)
Simpson, ARC. (2013). ‘Spuilzie in the Burgh Records’, 23rd November 2013, presented at "The Burgh in the North: Society, Polity, Law and Hinterlands, c.1400 - c.1800", Aberdeen University
Simpson, ARC. (2013). ‘Legislation and Authority in Early Modern Scotland’, 11th July 2013, presented at the 21st British Legal History Conference, Glasgow University
Simpson, ARC. (2013). ‘The Practicks of Chalmers and Balfour’, 3rd May 2013, presented at "Understanding the Scottish Practicks", organised by the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies and the Civil Law Centre, Aberdeen University
Simpson, ARC. (2013). ‘Presuming Ownership from Possession of Moveables: Substantive or Procedural?’, 30th April 2013, presented at a joint seminar of the Centres for Property Law and Private International Law at the University of Aberdeen
Simpson, ARC. (2013). ‘A Remedy for a "Wrang" or a Protection for a Presumptive Right? Debating the Rationale of the Action of Spuilzie in Early Modern Scots Law’, 12th March 2013, presented at a staff seminar of the Department of Private Law at the University of Cape Town; a revised version of this paper was presented on 25th March 2013 at the University of Stellenbosch, at a joint seminar hosted by the Department of Private Law and the South African Research Chair in Property Law
Simpson, ARC. (2013). ‘Ante Omnia: The Origins of the Scottish Action of Spuilzie’, 9th March 2013, presented at "Continuity and Change: To Celebrate the Life of Professor Angelo Forte", Aberdeen
Simpson, ARC. (2012). ‘“Cleare as is the Summers Sunne”: Legal Learning, Parliamentary Power and the English Royal Succession’, 21st December 2012, presented at “Morality and Responsibility of Rulers: Chinese and European early modern foundations of a rule of law for world order", Amsterdam (publication forthcoming with OUP, 14th December 2017)
Simpson, ARC. (2012). ‘Authoritative Non-Legislative Texts in the Scottish Legal Tradition, 1100-1800’, 23rdAugust 2012, presented at a joint seminar between Bergen Law Faculty and Aberdeen Law School, Lerwick
Simpson, ARC. (2012). ‘Counsel and the Crown: Two Juristic Views of the Law of the Commonweal in Sixteenth Century Scotland’, 26th April 2012, presented at “Constitutionalism in Europe before 1789”, Bergen
Simpson, ARC. (2012). ‘David Chalmers’s Defence of the Rights of Women’, 23rd February 2012, presented at the Glasgow Forum for Scots law, Glasgow
Simpson, ARC. (2011). ‘The History of the Presumption of Ownership in Moveable Property’, 29thJuly 2011, presented at a conference on Scottish Legal History organised by the Civil Law Centre, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen
Simpson, ARC. (2011). ‘Questioning Stair? Forbes’s Concept of Legal Authority’, 29th March 2011, presented at the launch of the digitised version of Forbes’s Great Body of the Law of Scotland, Glasgow
Simpson, ARC. (2010). ‘Henryson, Demosthenes and the Authority of Scots law’, 2nd October 2010, presented to the Scottish Legal History Group, Edinburgh
Simpson, ARC. (2009). ‘Learning, Honour and Patronage: The Career of Andrew McDouall, Lord Bankton, 1746-1760’, 18thJuly 2009, presented at the Cambridge Legal History Colloquium, Cambridge
Simpson, ARC. (2008). ‘The Use of Foreign Legal Literature by Scots lawyers in the Early Eighteenth Century’, 5th December 2008, presented at the European Science Foundation Workshop “At the roots of European legal culture. Cross-border influences of legal literature in early modern times (ca. 1550 – ca. 1750)”, Lille
Simpson, ARC. (2008). ‘The Relationship between the Study of Law and the Study of the Legal Past in Scotland during the Sixteenth Century’, 11th July 2008, presented to the Summer Course of the Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt