John’s research interests are in private law, including insolvency, bankruptcy history, company, charity and equity and trusts. He is currently researching insolvent charities and timeliness in corporate insolvency. An exponent of progressive communitarianism, John approaches his scholarship from a normative and critical reform perspective. This work is underpinned by his legal history scholarship. John has published extensively and his research has appeared in leading international journals and edited collections published in England and Australia. Whilst John's work has been cited by academics around the Globe (at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Lancaster, British Columbia, Kent, LSE) John is best known for his work on personal insolvency, officeholder behaviour, and for advocating corporate insolvency approaches based on the 'timeline of insolvency' and 'consensual restructuring'. In the realm of charity law John has introduced the 'patronage bargain' theory and used communitarianism theory to advocate for charity rescue to maintain public benefit.
John has written for a number of authoritative works. He is joint author, with John Briggs of 3/4 South Square, of Muir Hunter on Personal Insolvency, "the leading textbook on personal bankruptcy" (per Lord Millett, 2015). The work was first produced by Lord Justice Vaughan Williams in 1870 and is frequently cited with approval in the Superior Courts of England and Wales, including five references in 2017, four in 2019, nine in 2020, three in 2021, and three in 2022. The work has also been cited in a number of Commonwealth jurisdictions, most recently in New Zealand's Court of Appeal. John has also contributed chapters to Tolley's Insolvency Law, including a chapter on insolvent charities.
John is frequently involved in policy and legislation reform work and has given expert evidence to the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament. In 2006 he gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Enterprise and Culture Committee during the passage of the Bankruptcy and Diligence, etc (Scotland) Bill. In 2021 John gave evidence to the Public Bills Committee of the House of Commons on the Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill. In 2021 John chaired an Insolvency Service (part of the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)) workstream consisting of representatives from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Financial Conduct Authority, UK Finance, debt advice charities, and the professions. The group were examining the reform of personal insolvency law. In early 2022 John joined the Government’s ‘Director Education Advisory Group’ which is examining director education in the United Kingdom. This is a significant long-term project that spans across various Government departments and industry including stakeholders from Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, Her Majesty's Treasury, the Institute of Directors, the Institute Chartered Accountants Scotland, Funding Circle, the Royal Bank of Scotland and which is being led by the Insolvency Service.
John has undertaken funded commissioned research for, inter alia, the Insolvency Service (UK Government), Grant Thornton, Baker Tilly, KPMG and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). John was PI on two Insolvency Service funded empirical projects. The first was an examination of the impact of the reduction in automatic discharge in bankruptcy following the Enterprise Act 2002 reforms. The second project examined debtor education and the credit environment in England and Wales (with Dr. Leyanda Cocks). John was also PI on a Baker Tilly funded project that examined the history and policy of insolvency bonds, a type of insurance for insolvency practitioners. More recently John was in receipt of an Economic and Social Research Council Collaborative Innovation Grant as part of Methods NW (with Dr. Cerian Griffiths).
John sits on a number of editorial boards including the BPIR law reports, Corporate Rescue & Insolvency, and Mithani: Directors' Disqualification. An experienced media commentator, John has appeared on Sky television, BBC television and radio and given a number of quotes to the national and international press on insolvency matters. John is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In 2016 John was appointed as an Academic Associate of Exchange Chambers, where he gives an annual talk. As part of his other Knowledge Exchange (KE) activity John works with the Liverpool Business & Property Court Forum as a member of the LBPCF committee. John has also given a number of keynote invited lectures over the last decade to professional organisations and governments. These invited lectures have been delivered to the Insolvency Lawyers' Association (2012), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW, 2016), the Insolvency Practitioners' Association (IPA, 2017, 2020, 2021) , the Insolvency Service (UK Government, 2018 and 2022), the University of Adelaide and Lynch Meyer, Australia (2019), and the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India (2021).
John is currently supervising two doctoral candidates at the University of Liverpool. Kerry Usher is examining aspects of cross-border insolvency. Stratios Koytzoumis is examining aspects of housing law and the nature of the home. John would be happy to hear from prospective doctoral candidates with an interest in insolvency law.