Emmanuel Voyiakis

Email: e.voyiakis@lse.ac.uk
Administrative support: Enfale Farooq
Room: New Academic Building 6.17
Tel. 020-7955-7243

Emmanuel joined the LSE as an associate professor in September 2011, having previously lectured at Brunel University. He holds degrees from the Democritus University of Thrace, Greece (LLB, 1999), the LSE (LLM, 2000) and UCL (PhD, 2005; supported by a three-year grant from the Greek Scholarships’ Foundation). His main areas of research are private law (contract and tort) and public international law.

Research Interests

My private law research focuses on the proper justification of private (contract and tort) law doctrines and tries to explain how our considered views about moral justification, responsibility and social justice bear on general theories of private law and on the way particular private law doctrines should be understood and applied.

My international law research focuses on the nature and the ‘sources’ of international law, especially on the role of normative propositions in determining what international law requires or allows. I am particularly interested in questions about the normative force of customary international practices and the character of the reasons that such practices give rise to for international agents.


Private Law and the Value of Choice (Hart Publishing: 2017)

Some say that private law ought to correct wrongs or to protect rights. Others say that private law ought to maximise social welfare or to minimise social cost. In this book, Emmanuel Voyiakis claims that private law ought to make our responsibilities to others depend on the opportunities we have to affect how things will go for us. Drawing on the work of HLA Hart and TM Scanlon, he argues that private law principles that require us to bear certain practical burdens in our relations with others are justified as long as those principles provide us with certain opportunities to choose what will happen to us, and having those opportunities is something we have reason to value.The book contrasts this 'value-of-choice' account with its wrong- and social cost-based rivals, and applies it to familiar problems of contract and tort law, including whether liability should be negligence-based or stricter; whether insurance should matter in the allocation of the burden of repair; how far private law should make allowance for persons of limited capacities; when a contract term counts as 'unconscionable' or 'unfair'; and when tort law should hold a person vicariously liable for another's mistakes.

Selected articles
and chapters in books

'A Disaggregative View of Customary International Law-Making’ 29 Leiden Journal of International Law (2016) 365-388

This article argues that some familiar principles, like the protection of reasonable expectations or fair play, can justify the normative force and binding character of some types of customary international practices. We have no reason to think that any one of those principles can justify all customary practices that are typically taken to have such force. Accordingly, instead of proposing a unifying justification for all customary international law-making, I will suggest that the impact of past international practices on the normative situation of international agents is determined not by one master principle, but by a range of different normative principles, each applicable in different situations. If this is correct, i.e., if the principles that give customary practices their normative force vary depending on the kind of principle governing the practical problem that those practices are meant to respond to, both the critique and the defence of customary law-making must proceed on what I will call a ‘disaggregative’ basis.

‘Rights, Social Justice and Responsibility in the Law of Tort’ 35(2) UNSW Law Journal, Thematic Issue: Critical Perspectives on Social Justice (2012) 449-469

My contribution to the Thematic takes issue with the idea that tort law is there to protect rights and that what is typically called ‘distributive justice’ is not a proper normative standard by which tort law ought to be assessed. I suggest that this idea is misleading for two related reasons. First, it misunderstands its target: theories of ‘distributive justice’ are not theories about distribution, they are theories about the basic social structure. Second, social-structural concerns play an important role in determining the general conditions of moral responsibility and are therefore important elements in explaining when the violation of a right makes an agent responsible to the bearer of that right. If this is correct, theorists who exclude considerations of social justice from the normative standards that apply to tort law not only misunderstand the nature of social justice and its demands, they also have a poor account of responsibility for violations of rights.

‘Contract Law and Reasons of Social Justice’ 25(2) Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence (2012) pp.393-416

The main source of resistance to the idea that contract law should be sensitive to the demands of social justice has been the idea that there must be a division of labour between parts of the law that attend to social-structural problems and parts of the law that attend to parties’ conduct towards each other. I argue that this idea is mistaken for two reasons. First, while an agent’s conduct towards another may not necessarily make an impact on the social structure, laws regulating the conditions of enforceability of private transactions always do. Second, structural and non-structural considerations claim overlapping rather than distinct domains of application.

'Estoppel' in Carty T. (ed.), Oxford Bibliographies Online: International Law (2012, New York: Oxford University Press)

An annotated bibliographical guide on estoppel in international law, covering the origins of estoppel in national legal systems; its place within the sources of international law; its practical requirements; its relation to neighbouring concepts such as acquiescence, recognition, waiver and prescription; and its role in the context of territorial, trade and investment and human rights disputes.

'International Law, Interpretative Fidelity and the Hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer', 54 German Yearbook of International Law (2011) 385-420

We want to be faithful to the legal texts and practices that we interpret. We also want to treat those texts and practices as ‘living instruments’ that are relevant to the present and its concerns. Two dominant schools of thought in international law, positivism and critical legal theory, say that we cannot hold onto both of those desiderata simultaneously. Drawing on the hermeneutic philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, I argue that we can and that we do. Showing fidelity to the interpreted legal texts and practices and treating them as ‘living instruments’ are not unsophisticated practical intuitions that turn out to conflict with each other when put under the philosophical lens. They are essential and mutually dependent dimensions of all competent international legal interpretation.

‘Customary International Law and the Place of Normative Considerations’ 55 American Journal of Jurisprudence (2010) 163-201

A large part of the theory of customary international law subscribes to the idea that we can determine the content of international custom by attending to certain social facts about the behaviour and intentions or beliefs of international agents. I argue that this idea is mistaken insofar as it excludes from the determinants of customary legal content the only considerations that could explain which social facts are significant, by how much, and which propositions of law they support: normative considerations.

‘International Treaties’ in Cali B. (ed.), International Law for International Relations (OUP, 2010) 99-121

The chapter introduces some key concepts in the law of international treaties and explores the reasons for the effectiveness of treaties as a means for securing international co-operation and for pursuing collective aims.

‘Do General Principles Fill ‘Gaps’ in International Law?’ 14 Austrian Review of European & International Law (2009), [FORTHCOMING November 2011 ]

The differentiation between ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ cases cannot be deployed to support the idea that general principles fill gaps in international law. The interpretation of international law takes the same form -and relies on evaluative resources to the same degree- regardless of the municipal or international provenance of the relevant legal material.

'The Great Illusion: Tort Law and Exposure to Danger of Physical Harm', 72 Modern Law Review (2009) 909-935

When I carelessly expose a person to danger of physical harm, tort law requires me to compensate that person insofar as my negligence has significantly increased his/her cost of options that could either reduce or eliminate that danger, or insure him/her against the incidence of the threatened harm

'Unconscionability and the value of choice' in Kenny-Fox-Devenney (eds.), Unconscionability in European Private Financial Transactions: Protecting the Vulnerable (CUP, 2010) 77-98

The doctrine of unconscionability is best seen as reflecting the principle that our institutions should hold agents accountable for their transactional choices only when those choices have been made from within a range of options and under conditions that agents could not reasonably reject as a ground of such accountability.

'Voting in the General Assembly as Evidence of Customary International Law?' in Allen-Xanthaki (eds.), Reflections on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Hart Publishing, 2010) 209-224.

Those who claim that, as a general matter, States’ votes in the UN General Assembly may be used to infer those States’ intentions in respect to customary international law have failed to explain how one could separate States’ formal intentions (i.e. their intention to adopt a non-binding instrument) from their substantive intentions (i.e. their intention to support propositions contained in those instruments).

'International Law and the Objectivity of Value', 22(1) Leiden Journal of International Law (2009) 1-28

The familiar critical contention that international law cannot be both objective and normative trades on a poor conception of objectivity and a mistaken understanding of the metaphysics of value. One cannot claim to understand the propositional content of evaluative judgments and still doubt their capacity for objective truth or falsity.

'Of Foxes and Hedgehogs: Some Thoughts on the Relationship Between WTO Law and General International Law' in Picker et al (eds.), International Economic Law: The State and Future of the Discipline (Hart, 2008) 106-119

Understanding the relationship between WTO and general international law requires us to determine not only whether those two bodies of law share certain formal features, but also whether the values that each reflects can be made to dovetail.

'Contracts, Promises and the Demands of Moral Agency' in Freeman (ed.), Law & Philosophy: Current Legal Issues (OUP, 2007) 288-303

Seana Shiffrin is right to claim that we ought to measure contract law against our considered views about decent moral agency, but she is wrong to restrict her conception of decent moral agency in voluntary transactions to conformity with the demands of promise-keeping. Decent moral agents attend not only to their interpersonal duty to keep their promises, but also to their political duty to support social structures that effect a legitimate distribution of bargaining power.

‘Access to Court v. State Immunity’, 52 International & Comparative Law Quarterly (2003) 297-332

Both majority and minority opinions in Al-Adsani v. UK (ECHR) subscribe to the idea that jus cogens norms are hierarchically higher norms of international law. I argue that this idea sweeps the most pressing questions under the carpet. To say that legal rules on the prohibition of torture override legal rules on state immunity, one must have determined that the two sets of rules stand in substantive conflict and that is a question of substantive interpretation rather than formal hierarchy.