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Benjamin Dudley Tombs

PhD Candidate


Ben Tombs (160)Ben is a PhD Candidate with the Law faculty and housed at the Centre for Sustainability. Before coming to Otago he received a BA in Liberal Arts & Sciences from Universiteit Leiden in the Netherlands, and a Master of Laws LLM from University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Ben’s research interests revolve around environmental legislation, government duty, and legal philosophy in a context of climate change. At the moment he is specifically interested in exploring theories of jurisprudence and their application to judicial reasoning as the future becomes more uncertain. As he will no doubt tell you, Ben grew up in Belfast Northern Ireland. He enjoys drinking coffee, skating, reading, and watching Ulster rugby win every game they play.


Ben’s topic explores the obligations and relationship between the Crown and communities’ increasing risk of property damages due to climate change. The research examines what obligations exist (if any) and how they might affect the interaction between property owners, local councils, and central government. A large part of the research is about the role of institutions in shaping both judicial interpretation and outcome, as this will be increasingly important in crafting effective responses to the uncertainties of climate change damages.

Ben's Research Untangling Crown obligations towards climate change risk

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Dudley Tombs, B., Stephenson, J., France-Hudson, B., & Ellis, E. (2021). 'Property purgatory'. Policy Quarterly, 17(1), 50-56.

Ellis, L., Stephenson, J., France-Hudson, B., & Dudley Tombs, B. (2020, May). Wellington flooding a Covid recovery reminder. Newsroom: Ideasroom. Retrieved from

Dudley Tombs, B., & France-Hudson, B. (2018). Climate change compensation: An unavoidable discussion. Policy Quarterly, 14(4), 50-58.