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Dr Claire Bessant

Associate Professor

Department: Northumbria Law School

Dr Claire Bessant joined Northumbria University’s School of Law in 2002 having made the decision to move to academia from private practice where she worked as a solicitor specialising in family law. She has since published in the fields of family law, privacy law, data protection, information sharing and human rights, and has contributed to government and parliamentary consultations, on both domestic violence and online privacy.  

Claire is a member of the Society of Legal Scholars and an elected member of the Society of Legal Scholars Executive Committee. She is a member of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and in 2023 was appointed as one of the mentors for the SLSA's pilot mentoring scheme. In January 2024, with colleagues at Northumbria, she co-organised and co-hosted the SLSA's PGR conference 2024.  Claire is also a member of the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) and has twice served as PGR mentor at the AoIR's annual conference.

Claire is a member of the ESRC, AHRC and UKRI Talent Peer Review Colleges.

At Northumbria, Claire is a member of Northumbria Law School's Law and Society Research Group and is a member of and part of the management group of Northumbria's Gender, Violence and Abuse Interdisciplinary Research Theme.

Claire’s teaching currently focuses upon information law (including data protection, access to environmental information and inter-agency information sharing for child protection purposes).  Claire has also led the postgraduate research skills module and has taught on the undergraduate and postgraduate Childcare Law and Family Law modules and on the undergraduate distance learning English Legal Systems module.

Claire currently fulfils two administrative roles at Northumbria: PGR Lead for Northumbria Law School and Ethics lead for Northumbria Law School. She has previously undertaken a variety of administrative roles including Faculty Director of Programme Approvals and Review, Director of Education for Postgraduate Law Programmes and Director of Education for Law. 

Claire is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a reviewer for the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme and has sat as an expert member on several panels considering the validation of law-related programmes at other institutions.

Claire is joint Managing Editor of the open-access Journal of Law, Technology and Trust. 

Claire Bessant

Campus Address

Room 309, City Campus East

Newcastle Upon Tyne

Much of Claire's research explores how family privacy impacts upon the law in practice. Family privacy is here understood as an ideology which protects the family from the intervention of state and society and enables the family (notably parents) to take decisions about the family and children’s upbringing. Claire's doctoral thesis titled 'Parental Views about the Importance of Family Privacy and its Protection in English Law'used empirical methods to explore parents’ understanding of family privacy and the laws protecting such privacy.  The thesis proposed a new framework for understanding the relationship between family, state and society and a new definition of family privacy which reflects both how parents understand the term and jurisprudential views on the family and how it should be protected from state and society. Claire's thesis findings have been published in abridged form in the leading family law journal Child and Family Law Quarterly ('Twenty-First Century Family Privacy' 2023 CFLQ 35(3) 251-274). Claire is currently working on a monograph, to be published by Routledge, Family Law, Privacy and Ideology, which will explore the application of this framework in practice, and consider how the law currently operates to protect the family's privacy from state, individuals and big tech.

Claire's research on family privacy has been used to provide a new perspective to discussions regarding children's privacy, online harms, and the role parents and Government should play in protecting children from such harms (Parental approaches to protecting children from online harm: Trust, Protectionism or Dialogue? in Setty, Gordon and Nottingham, Children, Young People and Online Harms Palgrave Macmillan, 2024). Claire is also currently undertaking empirical research exploring educators' understanding of the legal obligations imposed upon them where children are at risk of/have suffered female genital mutilation, again using family privacy as a lens through which to explore the state's role in protecting vulnerable family members.  

Claire's research also explores the impact of technology upon children's privacy.  Claire's research on 'sharenting' (a term used when parents share information about their children online) and the legal remedies afforded to children in the UK whose information is shared online by their parents was published in Communications Law in 2018. Her consideration with Dr Maximillian Schnebbe of the application of the UKGDPR and EUGDPR to the phenomenon of shareting was published in Datenschutz und Datensicherheit in 2022. During 2021-2 Claire worked with an international, interdisciplinary team of academics to develop further understanding of the sharenting phenomenon, the benefits that sharenting brings and the risks that it poses, with a view to identifying further avenues for research and developing policy recommendations. This research forms the basis of a recent publication Sharenting in an Evolving Digital World: Increasing Online Connection and Consumer Vulnerability in the Journal of Consumer Affairs

Claire's interests in exploring the impact of digital technologies upon children has also led to another international collaboration which is currently exploring parents' awareness of dark design, an intentionally deceptive user interface designed to manipulate users, including children, into certain behaviours, including the sharing of their personal information.

In 2020-21 Claire formed part of the Observatory for the Monitoring for Data-Driven Approaches to Covid-19 (OMDDAC), a collaboration between Northumbria University & the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), funded by AHRC to research data-driven approaches to Covid-19.  Claire led on OMDDAC's research with young people which asked 'Are young people aware of how data (including their own personal data) has been used during the pandemic and if so, what views do they hold about its use?' The findings and recommendations drawn from this research are now available in the European Journal of Law and Technology: Children, Public Sector Data-Driven Decision-Making and Article 12 UNCRC

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Data-Driven Decision-Making Beyond COVID-19: Incorporating the Voice of the Child, Bessant, C., Allsopp, R. 21 May 2024, Governance, democracy and ethics in crisis-decision-making, Manchester, Manchester University Press
  • Domestic Abuse Protection Orders: Will they provide more effective protection against domestic abuse?, Bessant, C. 22 May 2024, Law Commission Project Launch Event: Defences for victims of domestic abuse who kill their abusers
  • Parental approaches to protecting children from online harm: Trust, Protectionism or Dialogue?, Bessant, C. 23 Feb 2024, Children, Young People and Online Harms , Cham, Switzerland, Palgrave Macmillan
  • School social media use and its impact upon children’s rights to privacy and autonomy, Bessant, C. 1 Jun 2024, In: Computers and Education Open
  • To what extent do teachers understand their legal responsibilities where girls have undergone or are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM)?, Bessant, C., Clayton-Helm, L. 29 Jan 2024, Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference 2024
  • Exploring parents’ knowledge of dark design and its impact on children’s digital well-being, Bessant, C., Ong, L., Cook, L., Grubbs Hoy, M., Pereira, B., Fox, A., Nottingham, E., Steinberg, S., Gan, P. 31 Dec 2023, In: AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research
  • Twenty-First Century Family Privacy, Bessant, C. 1 Dec 2023
  • Will domestic abuse protection notices and orders improve victim protection and assure the United Kingdom’s compliance with the Istanbul Convention?, Bessant, C. 5 Dec 2023, Research Handbook on Domestic Violence and Abuse, Edward Elgar
  • Children, Public Sector Data-Driven Decision-Making and Article 12 UNCRC, Bessant, C. 30 Sep 2022, In: European Journal of Law and Technology
  • Does the GDPR offer a solution to the ‘problem’ of sharenting?, Bessant, C., Schnebbe, M. 1 Jun 2022, In: Datenschutz und Datensicherheit

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Gender Based Violence: Reflections on the world envisaged in “After Dark” by Jayne Cowie, Bessant, C. (Principal Investigator), The Society of Legal Scholars, 01/08/22 - 31/08/22, £900.00
  • COVID-19: Observatory for Monitoring Data-Driven Approaches to COVID-19, Oswald, M. (Principal Investigator), Bessant, C. (Co Investigator), UK Research and Innovation, 04/11/20 - 03/11/21, £406,656.00
  • The Listening Fund, Bessant, C. (Principal Investigator), The Blagrave Trust, 01/04/18 - 31/03/19, £7,387.00

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Other: Member UKRI ESRC Peer Review College 2024
  • Invited talk: AI when it is not just work 2023
  • Invited talk: Sharenting 2023
  • Organising a conference, workshop, ...: Sexual Autonomy, Identity, and Protection in Adult Care Setting funded by the Modern Law Review 2023
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Association of Internet Researchers 24th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, USA 2023
  • Oral presentation: Exploring parents' knowledge of dark design and its impact on children's digital well-being 2023
  • Participating in a conference, workshop, ...: Association of Internet Researchers 24th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, USA 2023
  • Membership of committee: The Society of Legal Scholars (External organisation) 2023
  • Invited talk: Technology in co-present care 2023
  • Other: Mentor, SLSA Pilot Mentoring Scheme 2023

  • Clare Redmond Sharenting: is a legal response needed in the United Kingdom (UK) and, if so, what form should this take? Start Date: 01/10/2023
  • Marianne Matthews Storage limitation in data protection laws: Irish charity archives, the right to be forgotten, and a right to be remembered? Start Date: 06/09/2022
  • Noeleen Redmond Divorce in Ireland, its impact on the Family Business: A legal perspective Start Date: 06/05/2021 End Date: 17/07/2024

  • Law PhD May 20 2021
  • Academic Studies in Education MA November 01 2011
  • Law LLM July 01 2002
  • Law LLB (Hons) July 01 1994
  • Solicitor of England and Wales
  • Legal Practice Course LPC 1994
  • Senior Fellow (SFHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2014

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