Professor Barry Barton

Professor Barry Barton

University of Waikato Faculty of Law

Barry Barton’s field of research is energy, natural resources and environmental law. In energy law, the issues of climate change, energy policy and energy security hold a growing importance, and present special legal challenges. Barry has worked on energy regulation and the relationship between regulation and effective markets; and has reassessed the popular view that market liberalization obstructs energy sustainability. He has examined the regulatory work of the Electricity Commission and Commerce Commission. At present his focus is on energy efficiency, especially through the project Energy Cultures that has been funded by the Foundation of Research Science and Technology. This interdisciplinary project seeks to understand the drivers of energy use behaviour in the household, in order to devise more effective law and policy in the field. Within the International Bar Association, he has co-edited or contributed to a series of studies on energy and resources law published by the Oxford University Press: Human Rights in Natural Resource Development, Energy Security, Regulating Energy and Natural Resources, Beyond the Carbon Economy, and Property and the Law in Energy and Natural Resources.

Mining law and new uses of the subsurface are the second major strand in Barry’s research. Most of his work on mining concerns Canada, where he worked for some years. He is the author of the book Canadian Law of Mining, published in 1993, still Canada’s premier text on the subject, and now under revision. He also has under way research on changing patterns of ownership of minerals internationally, and new issues in subsurface ownership of land and resources. Carbon capture and storage is one such issue where it is important to understand the relevant law. In relation to minerals and carbon capture and storage, Barry has provided advice in the public and private sectors in relation to law, policy, and international investment dispute arbitration matters. In oil and gas law, he has carried out FRST-funded research on iwi claims to hydrocarbon resources.

The third strand in Barry Barton’s work is environmental law, with a particular emphasis on property in natural resources. His published work includes subjects such as: outstanding landscapes under the Resource Management Act 1991; the allocation of natural resources (such as water, geothermal, and marine farms); the political and legal theory of public participation; and on the legitimacy of the regulation of land use. Much of Barry’s research in natural resources law therefore leads to fundamental questions about the relationship between private and public law in natural resources. It addresses the legal means which society may employ to shape human behaviour through traditional regulation, market instruments and innovative approaches to regulation. He is involved in Intercoast, a co-operative programme between the Universities of Waikato and Bremen for coastal zone research. He has led FRST-funded research into the legal questions raised by community ecosystem restoration projects, part of a Waikato research programme on Urban Restoration of Ecosystems. He has contributed to the work of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on Crown pastoral leases and the Tenure Review Process.

Barry Barton’s teaching in energy natural resources law and environmental law takes place in the Waikato courses Environmental Law, Energy and Resources Law, and (in the Honours and graduate programme) Resource Management Law. He teaches Land Law in the undergraduate programme, and also supervises postgraduate students in LLM and PhD studies. He has been Stephen Dattels Fellow for Mining Law and Finance at the University of Western Ontario, in which capacity he teaches Canadian and international mining law.
Barry Barton graduated from the University of Auckland with a BA in Geography and an LLB (Hons), and practised law in Auckland for some years. At the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada, he completed an LLM under Professor Andrew Thompson. He went on to the Canadian Institute of Resources Law, based in the Faculty of Law of the University of Calgary. His research there over a period of seven years included legal aspects of water, oil and gas, surface rights, northern and indigenous issues, and mining. In 1991 he moved back to New Zealand to come to the new School of Law at Waikato.

At Waikato, Professor Barton is a member of the University Council and a member of the Academic Board. In the international field, he was appointed as the New Zealand member of the Academic Advisory Group of the Section of Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law of the International Bar Association (, and has completed two terms as its Chairperson and as a member of the SEERIL Section Council. As well as this involvement in the IBA, he is active in the work of AMPLA, the Australian Resources and Energy Law association for legal professionals (, and edited the Australian Energy and Resources Law Journal, 2006-2009. Since 1999 he has been a director of the Environmental Defence Society ( He participates in meetings of the Resource Management Law Association of New Zealand (, and the International Association for Energy Economics ( On sabbatical leaves, he has worked at universities and research centres in Leiden, Ottawa, Copenhagen, Calgary, Aarhus, and Lapland.

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