Dr Ilona Cairns

Dr Ilona Cairns
Dr Ilona Cairns
Dr Ilona Cairns

Senior Lecturer


Room 46D, Block C

Taylor Building

University of Aberdeen

AB24 3UB


Ilona is Co-Director of the Law School's Centre for Scots Law. She has expertise in criminal law, evidence, family law and gender and the law and has experience teaching in these areas at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. Ilona joined the School of Law as a lecturer in February 2014 after initially joining the School as an AHRC funded PhD student in 2011.  

Ilona's research focuses mainly on the regulation and reform of the law relating to sexual offences and domestic abuse. She is particularly interested in these issues from an evidential standpoint and several of her publications relate to the Scottish corroboration rule, sexual offences and domestic abuse. Ilona recently re-wrote the case of Smith v Lees as part of the Scottish Feminist Judgments Project and is currently undertaking a comprehensive analysis, partially funded by the Carnegie Trust, of recent developments in the interpretation of the corroboration rule. Her most recent work explores the application of the Moorov doctrine in the context of proving the new Scottish offence of domestic abuse.  

Ilona is a former research fellow of the John Kluge Centre in the Library of Congress, Washington DC and the Centre for Studies in Research in International Law and International Relations at the Hague Academy of International Law. She has several years' experience working as a research assistant at the University of Victoria, Canada where she was involved in an interdisciplinary qualitative research project examining religious equality in UK and Canadian prisons. Ilona also has previous experience working for the Crown Office in British Columbia and as a legislative analyst for the Provincial Government of British Columbia. 

Ilona would be open to requests to supervise students with an interest in any aspect of criminal law & justice; the law of evidence; family law and gender & the law (including feminist approaches to law).

Internal Memberships

  • Co-Director of the Centre for Scots Law
  • Student Progress Convenor (Law)
  • Level 2 Year Co-ordinator
  • Research Committee
  • Learning & Teaching Committee
  • UG Policy Committee
  • Personal tutor

Teaching Responsibilities

Ilona teaches on the following courses at the School of Law:

  • Family Law (Ordinary)
  • Evidence (Ordinary)
  • Gender, Law and Society (Honours)
  • Criminal Law (LLM)
  • Criminal Evidence & Proof (LLM)

Ilona co-ordinates Family Law Ordinary, Gender, Law & Society (Hons) and Criminal Evidence and Proof (LLM). 


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  • ‘Gold Standard' Legislation for Adults Only: Reconceptualising Children as ‘Adjoined Victims' Under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018

    Cairns, I., Callander, I.
    Social and Legal Studies, vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 914–940
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Book review of Chris Ashford and Alexander Maine (eds), Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law

    Cairns, I.
    Edinburgh Law Review, vol. 25, no. 1, pp. 137-139
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • The Moorov Doctrine and Coercive Control: Proving a ‘course of behaviour’ under s. 1 of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018

    Cairns, I.
    International Journal of Evidence and Proof, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 396-417
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Smith v Lees 1997 SCCR 139: Judgment

    Cairns, I., Callander, I.
    Scottish Feminist Judgments. Cowan, S., Kennedy, C., Munro, V. (eds.). Hart Publishing, pp. 39-53, 15 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • 'Access to Justice' for complainers? The pitfalls of the Scottish Government's case to abolish corroboration

    Cairns, I.
    Scottish Criminal Evidence Law. Duff, P., Ferguson, P. R. (eds.). Edinburgh University Press, pp. 41-66, 26 pages
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • What Counts as “Domestic”?: Family Relationships and the Proposed Criminalisation of Domestic Abuse in Scotland

    Cairns, I. C. M.
    Edinburgh Law Review, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 262-268
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • The Costs of (Partial) Inclusion: The Evolution, Limits and Biases of the Principal Feminist Challenges to International Law

    Cairns, I. C. M.
    Women’s Human Rights and the Elimination of Discrimination. Jänterä-Jareborg, M., Tigroudja, H. (eds.). Hague Academy of International Law
    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
  • Muslim Prison Chaplains in Canada and Britain

    Beckford, J. A., Cairns, I. C. M.
    The Sociological Review, vol. 63, no. 1, pp. 36-56
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Feminising Provocation in Scotland: The Expansion Dilemma

    Cairns, I. C. M.
    Juridical Review, vol. 4
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
  • Does the abolition of corroboration in Scotland hold promise for victims of gender-based crimes?: Some feminist insights

    Cairns, I. C. M.
    Criminal Law Review, vol. 8, pp. 640-655
    Contributions to Journals: Articles
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Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings

Contributions to Journals