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Rhianwen Roberts

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I teach on the W222, Business and Consumer Transactions: Law and Practice, and have been teaching on the module since it started in 2006.

It’s a brilliant course in that it combines so many different aspects of business law including contract law, some elements of European commercial law and competition law. It’s a very well designed course: the fact that it teaches different aspects of law (some that could individually form whole modules in themselves) provides a wonderful opportunity for students to develop a broad spectrum of knowledge in commercial law. In fact, it’s a course that could have been designed for me!

I did my LLB in Law with Politics and my LLM in European Commercial Law. I started my legal career in a legal and policy role, which included advising and representing businesses, from SMEs to PLCs, on upcoming business-related legislation in both Whitehall and Brussels. I then moved to a purely legal role as a Commercial Legal Advisor, before being appointed to a senior management position as head of an ombudsman service, which resolved consumer disputes, including construction disputes, via ADR. During most of this time I also taught on a part-time basis, starting in adult education before joining the OU, and I continue to do so because I enjoy my subject and am committed to working with people who are interested in learning, whether that be as a matter of interest or for career-development purposes. I’ve been very fortunate to have had some inspirational teachers myself, and I hope I can pass some of that inspiration on to my own students.   

I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to experience the passage of legislation from policy formation through to providing legal advice to clients. When I now teach those subjects I’m able to put them into their historical and practical context and to bring the subject alive for students.

Some of the areas taught on the course, and that I have lobbied on and advised on in the past, includes what became the most recent amendment to our Sale of Goods Act 1979, the recent Block Exemption for Vertical Agreements and the Law Commission’s consultation into unfair contract terms. Another fascinating piece of legislation that’s covered on this course is the Commercial Agents Regulations – derived from EU law and before that, from German and French law, and it’s so interesting to see how the European Commission was first challenged with integrating the laws of two different jurisdictions, before it came before the British government, who then left the whole muddle to our poor judges to sort out!

One of the things I’m vehement about as a tutor is the development of critical thinking in students: in order to develop the law, we must not only understand the operation of the law, but also be able to view it critically. One of the highs of teaching for me is when I see a student break through from being able to regurgitate information to really analyse it and express a view on it.  

Another aspect of education that I’m very committed to is the teaching of students whose first language isn’t English, regardless of their specific language, such students will experience similar linguistic challenges which might mean they take a little longer to adjust to the subject being taught in English – but it’s no reason for them not to succeed, provided they’re genuinely interested and persevere.                   

Following on from some of my interests, I’m currently involved with a few other legal educational projects, including as the Subject Expert for the Welsh Assembly Government – leading the development of Welsh language resources for Law at A and AS Level to support the teaching of the subject in Welsh. Another project I’m currently involved with is as a Critical Reader on another fascinating OU module: Business, Human Rights Law and Corporate Social Responsibility (WU822), a module on the LLM in Law and the MBA – something for students to think about after their LLB!

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