Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Administrative support: Anna Lisowska
Room: New Academic Building 7.18
Tel. 020-7955-7264

Chris Thomas joined LSE as an Assistant Professor of Law in 2011 and specialises in international economic law. He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne (LLB (Hons), BSc, and Dip Arts (English Lit)), where he was also co-Editor in Chief of the Melbourne Journal of International Law. Chris is soon to complete his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he was supported by a WM Tapp Studentship in Law from Gonville and Caius College and was an Honorary Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholar. Before embarking on his PhD, Chris qualified as a solicitor in Australia and practised for three years with Mallesons Stephen Jaques in Melbourne.

Research Interests

Current research interests include: the law of the WTO; the relationship between law and expert knowledge and authority; the basis of obligation in international law; the concept of international and transnational public spheres; and approaches to distributive justice in trade and investment agreements.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'The Uses and Abuses of Legitimacy in International Law' (2014) 34 (4) Oxford Journal of Legal Studies

In recent decades, the term 'legitimacy' has featured heavily in debates about international law and international institutions. Yet the concept of legitimacy, mercurial as it is, has remained under-scrutinized, leading to confusion and misuse. Rather than advancing a particular conception of what may make international law legitimate, this article seeks to clarify and complicate how international lawyers understand and use legitimacy as a concept. To begin, the article distinguishes between legal, moral and social legitimacy. It highlights the different ways in which these three approaches to legitimacy have been used in international law scholarship, while drawing attention to some of their more problematic tendencies. From there, it breaks the concept of legitimacy down into three major elements: its object, subject and basis. It argues that the tendency to blur these elements has led to much of the uncertainty and obfuscation in legitimacy debates. Finally, the article stresses the importance of distinguishing legitimacy from other grounds for compliance, including coercion, self-interest and habit. Ultimately, it argues that if treated with sufficient rigour, legitimacy provides a useful analytical concept for international lawyers. In doing so, it aims to encourage and facilitate the participation of international lawyers in broader inter-disciplinary debates about legitimacy.

‘Addressing the Turn to Science in International Law' (2014) 63 (1) International and Comparative Law Quarterly pp.236-42

Case Note: R (Corner House Research & Anor) v Director of the Serious Fraud Office [2009] 1 AC 756, Oxford Reports on International Law (2012)

Book Review: 'Isabel Feichtner, The Law and Politics of WTO Waivers: Stability and Flexibility in Public International Law' (2011) 82(1) British Year Book of International Law 515-18

Case Note: R (Bancoult) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) [2009] 1 AC 453, Oxford Reports on International Law (2011)

Settlement' (2011) 14 (2) Journal of International Economic Law 295

World Trade Organization panels are regularly required to address specifically economic evidence and arguments when resolving disputes. Economic arguments provide the basic foundations for many disputes, and parties are proving increasingly willing to contest the facts underlying those arguments. Despite this, panels have often failed to engage satisfactorily with economic reasoning. The deficiencies in panels’ reasoning have been exacerbated by their refusal to seek information and advice from independent economic experts. This approach is neither necessary nor productive. It undermines the epistemic legitimacy of individual panel reports and the political legitimacy of the dispute settlement system more generally. More careful and rigorous panel engagement with economic evidence, as assisted by independent experts acting within appropriate limits, would go some way to reducing this legitimacy deficit while improving the accuracy and finality of the dispute settlement system.

(with Carolyn Evans) 'Church–State Relations in the European Court of Human Rights' [2006] Brigham Young University Law Review 699-726

This article explores the ways in which the requirements of religious freedom in the ECHR permit certain types of relationships between Church and State (including some that would be impermissible in countries such as the United States) but also restricts the scope of permissible relations.