Simon took his BA and BCL at Jesus College, Oxford, before holding a lecturership for a year at Nottingham University, joining Lincoln as Law Fellow in 1978. Retiring in 2018, he will have held this post for 40 years.
Over this time Simon has held a variety of roles in the College, most recently that of Sub-Rector, and also in the University, where between 1998 and 2001 he chaired the Law Faculty Board. His academic interests have included Criminal Law and Contract, but his main concentration has been on Property Law: Land Law and Trusts.
He has published advanced introductions to both Trusts and Land Law, as well as many articles across all these fields. He is especially proud of one that looks at some 19th-century rules about making contracts by post, explaining these in terms of contemporary reforms to the postal service, for which Anthony Trollope was responsible. Trollope’s own construction of the results, in his novel The Eustace Diamonds, is strikingly similar to the guise in which they appear in the legal rules too.
Within Property Law, Simon’s most enduring focus has been on the way that the law allows people to acquire property rights not only in the planned ways that we most often think of, for example buying or renting a house or taking out a mortgage, but also in various unplanned ways, where those involved do not have this consequence in mind, at least with any clarity.
One instance of this choice is a doctrine assisting someone who devotes themself to caring for an ailing person in the expectation, perhaps even the hope, that they will be supported under that person’s will, but no inheritance materializes, leaving them homeless and unprovided for. Another instance is a set of rules whereby, when a home is officially owned by one person but other family members live in it too, the law treats its ownership as actually shared between the occupants. These rules have reformed the situation of especially unmarried couples, above all allowing a division of assets on separation comparable, if not identical, to that applicable to married couples. Simon’s work in such areas has been both extensive and influential, being drawn on judicially on a number of occasions, including in the leading Supreme Court decision on the family home rules.