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Dr Joseph Lee


Senior Lecturer


01392 725548

Amory 108

Dr Joseph Lee is a senior lecturer in law at Exeter Law School. He joined the School as lecturer in company and commercial law in October 2012. From 2006 to 2012 he was lecturer in business law at the University of Nottingham, which he joined immediately after the completion of his PhD at the University of London.


Joseph has also been visiting professor and collaborateur scientifiqueat the University of Liège, Belgium, and visiting professor at the National Taiwan University teaching UK and EU company law and English commercial law. He was visiting scholar at the Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, University of Tokyo in 2014. He has lectured at the National Chiao-Tung University of Taiwan, University of Hong Kong, Kyushu University and Nagoya University of Japan, and Bocconi University.


Joseph specialises in company law & governance, financial markets regulation, commercial law, and arbitration. He teaches financial markets law and regulation, corporate law and governance, and international trade law.


His research interests are in the areas of distributed ledgers technologies (DLTs) and smart technologies in financial markets, regulation and supervision of financial market infrastructures (FMI), Online dispute resolution and automated enforcement, and data trusts and governance.  He welcomes PhD applications for research supervision in these subject areas.


Joseph regularly acts as a consultant. He advised a central bank and government agencies and provides training to the judiciary. He is fellow of the European Law Institute and a member of the International Bar Association.


Joseph currently holds a research grant awarded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC-IAA) to investigate into Artificial Intelligence (AI) in capital markets     

Research supervision

Dr Joseph Lee currently supervises the following PhD theses 





Building trust in blockchain and smart technologies: a legal and regulatory approach


Today, as more and more of our interactions are governed by software, code-based regulation is becoming essential. While crypto-assets’ hype has put a light on blockchain, it also revealed the risks associated with auto-regulated systems. This study, assuming that the use of Digital Ledger Technology (DLT), Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) and smart contracts raises significant legal questions related mainly but not only to jurisdiction and applicable law, the legal status of DAOs as entities, the liability of DAOs and their creators, the legal enforceability of smart contracts or data protection, examines the different possible approaches to tackling those issues and tries to provide legal certainty in a context of flexibility favourable to an innovative approach.





Navigating the Risk and Compliance Landscape of Merchant Acquiring: Unchartered Territory in an Increasingly Globalised Economy


The research investigates whether the field of merchant acquiring is adequately regulated given the intrinsic financial and reputational risks it incurs. The thesis will examine international and national legislation, direct and indirect and aims to provide substantial literature on the subject.  This will hopefully act as a springboard for many more future targeted pieces of work.




Mr Obiajulu Hansel UJA, Attorney Nigeria 


Integrating Ethics in Corporate Governance: A Comparative Study of the Role of Directors in Nigeria and United Kingdom 


There is need for ethical colouration in Corporate Governance practices in Nigeria and other part of the world. Ethical principles are universal standards of right and wrong, it is the golden rule and any business without ethical bearing is at a risk, though companies must make profit in order to survive and grow. However, the pursuit of profit must stay within ethical boundaries hence the motivation for this research. Every company must strive to make profit from a fair transaction but also must appreciate a growth that will be sustained in the long run of the existence of the Business.



 Mr Yunus YILDIZ, Attorney, Turkey 


Legal Aspect to the Possibility of Using Distributed Ledger Technologies and Smart Contracts for Securities Trading in the light of Current Situation 


The research investigates the structure of Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLTs) and smart contracts hence concentrate upon possibilities and risks of using these technological innovations in capital markets. It is claimed that the DLTs vision (blockchain) will make a massive change to the structure of capital markets with decentralisation and disintermediation. Also, it is believed that using smart contracts will facilitate securities trade on the network and ensure investor protection in comparison with current traditional contract method. The principal focal point of this research will discuss the expected benefits and possible effects of the blockchain and smart contracts on parties of securities trading from a legal and regulatory perspective.  






Corporate groups, Limited liability and English company law: A Utopia?


This research focuses on how the Companies Act interacts with corporate groups and how this differs between industry sectors. It will investigate how corporations are practically constructed and how this differs between industries. The research hypothesises that different industries will utilise different structures depending on the industry in which they operate.  Liability, for example, may be a motive for some corporate groups which operate in high risk industries like mining, such was the case in Adams v Cape. Structuring a group with separate companies for each high risk operation could reduce liability and boost corporate profits, this research will also investigate the potential impact to society.




Mr Yonghui BAO, Attorney China


The Role of Financial Intermediaries in Hostile Takeovers: A UK and China Perspective


Along with China’s progress of the reforms in ownership structure and opening up its market, the market for corporate control is developed gradually. The financial intermediaries are involving more actively than ever before in recent hostile takeovers in China. The directions for further reforms of takeover law and regulatory model is therefore one of the hotly debated topics.  Under the UK market, financial intermediaries, such as investment banks, asset management industries, stock exchanges play an essential role in shaping market and the takeover law. This research is mainly focused on what are the lessons for China from the UK takeover code and how China adopts this model with its indigenous way.   




Mr Harry  JAYAKRISHNAN, Barrister England & Wales 


To What Extent is the Current Legislative and Regulatory Regime Effective in Combating Money Laundering in the United Kingdom? 


The crime of money laundering in the UK should be fought with the same intensity and purpose as it fights poverty, unemployment and inequality. In line with this, the research will evaluate the effectiveness of the current legislative and regulatory regime in combating money laundering activities. It will employ the 'effectiveness test' as an operational tool and bench mark and to bring together various different approaches to determine the legislative and regulatory qualities and its effectiveness across its life cycle. Where appropriate the research will look into technological innovations – Block-chain, Distributed Ledger Technology and Artificial Intelligence and the concept of Situational Crime Prevention to supplement the existing counter-measures to reduce money laundering activities.





External impact and engagement

Corporate Governance Officer Regime



Dr Joseph Lee’s research on the role of corporate governance officers in the governance of globalised finance has:

1) significantly influenced regulatory policy in Taiwan through a collaborative project with the Taiwan Stock Exchange (‘TWSE’) (ranked 16th globally), funded by the British Academy and ESRC-IAA; 

2) led to major regulatory reform in Taiwan which required listed companies and financial institutions to implement a corporate governance officer regime; and 

3) contributed to setting up the Corporate Governance Officers Association to strengthen plural governance and enhance the quality of third-party legal provision, through an ESRC-IAA Project co-creation with the Taiwan Bar Association.   


Corporate governance of international capital markets is needed to reassure institutional investors that markets comply with international governance norms, to safeguard against boards’ self-dealing, and to maintain market integrity against money laundering and market abuse. Academic research has focussed on how corporate governance can reduce agency costs, and on the role of lawyers and accountants as gatekeepers, but there has been little discussion on corporate governance officers. Dr Lee’s work on corporate governance officers was the first academic paper to show how dedicated governance professionals within a corporate organisation can reduce corporate malpractice. Extrapolating from the way company secretaries operate within English law, the research shows how this administrative role can be transformed into a proactive governance professional who adds weight to the chairman’s supervision of board dynamics, provides key intelligence on risk management to independent board members, aids board members to connect with dis-enfranchised minority shareholders, and enables transnational cooperation on corporate governance. The research findings also highlight the tension between the regulatory responsibilities of corporate governance officers and their legal duties to the company, notably their duty of confidentiality. The research advocates a plural governance model and suggests that third-party provision by outside counsel and accounting firms should be allowed. Such a plural approach increases the pool of talent available to carry out the necessary work but it can also compromise independence and accountability in the audit market. A series of linked externally-funded research studies conducted between 2014 and 2018 has explored the impact, effectiveness and best use of the new corporate governance tools and the mechanism through which market safety for increasingly interconnected capital markets can be enhanced. Dr Lee’s BA-funded collaborative work with the TWSE showed the difficulty of connecting markets through stock exchange cooperation without alignment in corporate governance structure. In the ESRC-IAA (knowledge-transfer) project, Dr Lee worked with the TWSE and Janice Lin of Tsar & Tsai to identify areas where corporate governance officers can address the lack of governance of board practices in takeovers. In the ESRC-IAA (project co-creation) project, Dr Lee worked with Janice Lin, supervisor of the Taiwan Bar Association, to educate the legal community on third-party provision of corporate governance officer services. This led to the setting up of the Corporate Governance Officers Association in Taiwan which designed an ethical code for Corporate Governance Officers as well as providing training programmes and setting out professional standards.


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