Leslie Downie | Land Portal


My career has included being a property law lawyer, mediator, lecturer and local government consultant. As well as general consulting, I recently joined a Cape Town law firm, Michalsons Attorneys, to drive a new legal specialisation relevant to land information systems. At the end of 2016 I published a book 'Pro-Poor Legal Practice' with Juta, South Africa, on a new approach to private contracts that are able to bridge formal and informal practices. In 2015 I completed an MPhil at the University of Cape Town (in the Engineering and Built Environment Faculty) that tested pro-poor prenuptial agreements for State subsidised housing as a new land tenure tool. I have a particular interest in the use of private law contracts as a conflict resolution mechanism and as a means to allow for bottom-up input into land information system data. I focussed extensively on extra-legal and informal practices and how to incorporate and respect these within legal paradigms. Jenny Whittal (Geomatics) was my primary supervisor, resulting in additional exposure to LIS approaches and the use of the scientific research method as opposed to the formal legal doctrinal approach, which is a poor fit when informal practices are common in the subsidised housing context. My core expertise is property law and my co-supervisor Amanda Barratt, being a family law expert, gave me additional exposure to current family and dependency issues.

Interests: LIS, urban subsidized housing, entrenching informal practices in private contracts, Cohabitation/marital contracts

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