Academic Corner: Nigel Clayton

Interviewer Narmina

Nigel Clayton joined The City Law School in 1985. He has written in the field of the interaction of banking and trusts and has a text book ‘Administration of Trusts’. His current interests are in the field of banking regulation where it has a constitutional or human rights impact.

For this piece he speaks to law student Narmina Huseynova, a second year LLB student at the City Law School.

Was Law your first career choice?

When I was younger, I had a business degree in mind. My A-Levels were in accountancy, economics and law, and out of these three I developed a strong preference for law, which led me to complete LLB and LLM at London School of Economics. If I would do it again, I would probably complete another degree and a Law conversion course thereafter, which would benefit me in terms of having another area of interest and being more mature so as to benefit from studying at a later age.

You joined City Law School in 1985. Have you been teaching for the whole 30 year duration, or did you take time off to pursue other projects?

Shortly after graduation, I qualified at the Bar, where I practiced for a year, and then briefly worked for a multinational legal department. Although I did not particularly enjoy practice, it was useful experience, as I can now incorporate my practical knowledge of liability exclusion clauses, for example, into my banking teaching.

When and why did you decide to pursue your career in Academia, rather than practicing as a barrister or solicitor? Would you advise students to consider this as a career option?

I am convinced that one should have a career in what they are good at doing and what they enjoy doing at the same time. Teaching fitted me in both senses. The real world can be quite harsh, tough and demanding, while academia is a nice world. Also, I have inherited a teaching gene from my family, which one cannot change.

Academia requires more analytical skills, while practice requires a more precise approach – being able to provide a very specific clear answer, writing clauses and letters. I therefore would recommend that students follow their natural inclinations.

We all know you for your Equity and Trusts teaching, have you taught other subjects too?

Historically, I taught Banking Law for business schools and some non-lawyers, while now I teach exclusively Banking Law and Equity & Trusts at the City Law School. Previously, I also taught Equity & Trusts on the LPC, together with a practitioner (who is a very able and successful QC). Teaching on the LPC teaching involved lectures on case law, after which students would draft pleadings. Equity is an abstract subject, so I would not be against that method to come back as a standard way of teaching, as it gives students insight into practical aspects of law, which can help them to decide whether they would enjoy practice in fact.

What sparked your interest in these subjects?

My strong interest in banking regulation probably developed from my interest in economics. In my academic writing, I prefer policy approach to banking regulation. I would prefer writing on an issue that has impact on banking regulation rather than a historical piece on Equity. I also recently wrote a case note, which is not what I traditionally do, but something I wanted to attempt to prove to myself that I could succeed in it.

One of your main interests lies in the field of banking regulation, in particular where there is a constitutional or human rights impact. Do you think this effect is a common occurrence? Could you explain it with reference to an example?

Some of my earlier writings on regulation included examples of potential human rights infringement, such as a regulator taking away the license of a bank to act as a bank. I then focused on the “Equator principles” (which I do teach briefly on my banking course), which is concerned with banks monitoring that their borrowers, if involved in environmentally important projects, do not cause environmental damage. These Equator principles have been extended to human rights of people in occupation of those areas – to live in a safe environment.

My most recent piece (currently with publishers) considers some further parliamentary reports in relation to bank collapses and the role of directors of banks. So, I have developed my research and write about issues in banking regulation and collapses generally. I tend not to look into the future in my writing, as I prefer to comment on what is happening in banking currently (and there is indeed plenty that is happening). Moreover, as I do not work for a Regulator or a City firm, I have to collect information from someone in practice to write on these topics, which is challenging in itself and takes time. However, there is a lot of information out there – it is a matter of finding it all. It is also nice to be able to use it in my teaching which I do for the first term in the Banking Law course.

In one of your recent journal articles, you have suggested that the economic position of banks has an effect on their regulation. Could you tell us more about this?

The article published in the Journal of Banking Regulation, focuses on Basel III regulations, which requires banks to store more capital to protect them in case of collapse. Basel is a soft law, which regulators have traditionally not strongly enforced in the UK.

In the next five years, what changes do you think are likely to affect banking regulations?

Brexit should not be discounted. In terms of reconstructions, some of the UK Banking legislation, for instance, was subsequently amended to be in line with the European Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive. Brexit poses a question whether UK or EU regulations will be followed in case of collapse of a UK bank with branches in Europe.

If you could give just one piece of advice to Law students, what would it be?

With less than two months left until the exams, it is now time to get to work.

Quick-fire questions

1) What do you most like to do outside of law and teaching?
Travelling.

2) What would most surprise students about you?
We are all full of surprises!

3) Last film?
I am not a great fan of films. I have recently attended a play at the West End – The Kite Runner.

4) You’re known for occasionally peppering your lectures with some bursts of song – have you always enjoyed singing?
Yes, i do enjoy singing. If there is a case concerning particular pop stars or groups, that’s an opportunity to break lecture up a bit with light entertainment, provided it is in the context and proportional in terms of time. It also helps to slightly break barrier- singing me as a person and not as an academic.

5) Do you hold any interesting titles?
The one that you would not know about is that I am FCIB, which is Fellow of Chartered Institute of Banking. I was awarded Honorary Fellowship, some time ago, for setting papers and examining for the establishment’s exams in the field of International Banking Law, which I previously did for a few years.

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