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Franchising law


The modern high street is now full of franchises – from the coffee we drink to the cars we hire and from dry cleaning to supermarkets. Franchising is little more than a contract between a franchisee and a franchisor. The contract can be complex, at its core is the granting of a licence to use the franchisor’s intellectual property. Additionally, the franchising relationship is increasingly regulated – from the initial offer of the franchise to the franchisee, to the competition issues that might arise where a franchise becomes dominant in a particular market. In franchising law you will study how and why the rules governing franchise agreements work. The course primarily looks at the law of

England and Wales, the United Kingdom and the European Union, although it also looks to laws in other countries as these might be relevant when franchises expand.

Module A: The business of franchising


  • A history of franchising
  • Types of franchising
  • The franchise model
  • Lack of research literature
  • How a franchise is established
  • Becoming a franchisee

Module B: Intellectual property and franchising


  • Trade marks and franchising: Part I
  • Trade marks and franchising: Part II
  • Breach of confidence
  • Passing off
  • Copyright

Module C: The franchising contract


  • Regulations of franchising through contract
  • Structure of the franchising contract
  • The grant
  • Brand maintenance
  • The ‘method’ of the franchise
  • Law of competition

Module D: The regulation of franchising


  • What is a franchise?
  • The purpose of regulation
  • Registration requirements
  • Disclosure requirements and cooling off
  • Regulation of franchising contracts
  • Franchise fraud: pyramid selling
  • Renewal and exit rules


Each module is assessed by a 45-minute unseen written exam.


It is strongly recommended that you attempt Module A first.

How to apply

You can apply to study a module individually as a standalone unit or as part of a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Laws qualification. (In either scenario, they must be studied in order.)

These modules also contribute towards the following specialist pathways for Laws:

  • Commercial and Corporate Law
  • Common Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • International Business Law
  • International Intellectual Property Law

Apply via Postgraduate Laws.

Academic Co-ordinator

Professor Phillip Johnson

Professor Phillip Johnson

Phillip Johnson is the Professor of Commercial Law at Cardiff Law School. His main area of interest is intellectual property law, but he additionally has interests in sports and entertainment law, private international law and UK and EU public law.

He is a practising barrister at the Intellectual Property Bar, and a member of the Irish Bar, the Californian Bar and the Washington DC Bar. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the American Bar Association as well as the Intellectual Property Bar Association. As an Appointed Person (tribunal judge), he hears appeals from the Intellectual Property Office on trade marks and design disputes.

He has consulted to the UK Intellectual Property Office, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, foreign governments, as well as industry, and he has given expert evidence in foreign proceedings.

As a practising barrister, he has advised well-known fashion brands, pharmaceutical and agriculture companies, broadcasters and publishers as well as national newspapers and celebrity magazines.