Nicola Howell

PhD Candidate

Twitter Twitter
Website Personal Website

Nicola is a PhD candidate at Melbourne Law School. She researches consumer credit, consumer financial services, and personal insolvency law and policy, with interests in how consumer and insolvency laws and policies operate and how they can best protect consumers, including vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers. Her thesis examines the use of consumer credit and personal insolvency laws that have been designed to respond to consumer over-indebtedness.

Nicola has been an academic in the School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, since 2008, and between 2004 and 2008, Nicola was the Director of the Centre for Credit and Consumer Law at Griffith University. Other previous roles including senior policy positions with government, consumer and private sector organisations involved in consumer and/or financial services law. Nicola has also held committee positions with the Consumers' Federation of Australia and the Code Compliance Monitoring Committee for the Banking Code.

Nicola holds a Master of Laws (Griffith University) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Melbourne.

Thesis Title

The use and impact of legal solutions to consumer over-indebtedness: a comparison of Australian and Dutch approaches

Thesis Summary

Since the Global Finance Crisis, consumer over-indebtedness has been an area of concern for many jurisdictions. Legal solutions to consumer over-indebtedness have included bankruptcy and other personal insolvency options, debt adjustment schemes, and rights to seek a variation of a contract on the grounds of financial hardship. However, there is limited research on the impact of these solutions on debtors, including the extent to which these legal solutions improve the financial well-being of debtors. My research will examine the different legal options available for consumer debtors in Australia and in the Netherlands and use empirical methods to gain an understanding of how debtors experience the different options, and the impact that the use of the different options has on financial well-being and debtor rehabilitation.


  • Consumer Protection
  • Financial Services Law
  • Consumer Credit Law
  • Personal Insolvency Law