UKZN Academic Runner-up in National Three-Minute Thesis Competition

Mr Lee Swales.
Mr Lee Swales.

Law academic Mr Lee Swales’ PhD research earned him second place in the national three-minute thesis competition held at the University of the Free State.

The Postgraduate Research Competition, based on a concept founded by the University of Queensland in Australia, requires participants to deliver their thesis in a concise presentation using only one slide and in no more than three minutes.

Swales research titled: Analysis of the Regulatory Environment Governing Electronic Evidence in South Africa, suggests a law reform for electronic evidence in South Africa – primarily hearsay electronic evidence and the authentication and weight of all electronic evidence.

‘I am researching electronic evidence in South Africa with a view to suggesting law reform. The law often lags behind technological and societal developments,’ said Swales.

‘The research suggests certain changes in the regulation of electronic evidence. In this way, I hope that some of my work will be used by future courts and/or the law reform commission when they analyse this issue again.’

In preparation for the competition, Swales participated in and won the Three-Minute Thesis competition at UKZN’s School of Accounting, Economics and Finance Research Day in January. He also presented a paper at the first annual meeting of South African IT and IP Teachers and Researchers at Stellenbosch University last year and worked together with his supervisors Professor PJ Schwikkard and Professor C Ncube from the University of Cape Town as well as several colleagues within the School of Law.

‘The process of presenting my research to leading academics and attorneys in the country was a tremendous help in further refining the topic and giving me confidence with what I was doing. UKZN Three-Minute team manager Mr Sanele Gumede also provided great support and assistance.  I hope in future to be able to offer expertise and capacity in cyber and IT related issues at UKZN and supervise others in similar areas,’ said Swales.

Swales, who aims to submit his research for examination by August, is confident of getting at least one more published paper in a peer-reviewed article as the Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal has already agreed to publish a two-part feature on the first two chapters of his research later this year.

‘I have also been asked by Oxford University Press to write two chapters on electronic evidence for an evidence text book, which I have done,’ said Swales. ‘The drafts are with the editor and I hope to see that published next year.

‘Finally, the former Dean of Law at UCT has asked me to co-write a chapter in an international text book with her and some English, Irish and Australian colleagues. I have agreed and will be working on that in the latter half of this year,’ he added.

Words: Thandiwe Jumo

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