Hugh CollinsHugh Collins

Administrative support: Amanda Tinnams
Room: New Academic Building 7.10
Tel. 020-7955-7246

Hugh Collins joined LSE in 1991 when he was appointed to the chair of English Law. He studied law at Oxford and Harvard. Previously he was a Fellow of Brasenose College, Oxford University. He has also visited and taught in several American law schools including a year as a Visiting Professor at Boston University, and extended periods of research at Harvard and the University of Virginia.

see also Hugh Collins's LSE Experts page

see also 'Beyond the Third Way in Labour Law' available as podcast [a lecture delivered for The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society 29/1008]

Research interests

Research interests lie in three main fields: employment law, contract and commercial law, and legal theory.  In the field of employment law, a current particular interest concerns the application of human rights principles to the workplace and the employment relation.  In relation to contract law, the development of European Community contract law has been a particular interest in recent years.  In a combination of legal theory and commercial law, another focus of research has been in the idea of networks as a hybrid form of business organisation that is insufficiently recognised and accommodated by the law.    

Recent research grants include: Modern Law Seminar awards in 2001 (with D. Campbell and J. Wightman) leading to Implicit Dimensions of Contracts (Oxford: Hart , 2003), and again in 2006 (with L. Barmes and C. Kilpatrick) on the topic of Reconstructing the Contract of Employment'. The Arts and Humanities Research Council awarded Research Leave for 2006 in order to complete a book on European Community Contract Law.


External Activities

  • Articles editor Modern Law Review

  • Articles editor and co-founder of the European Review of Contract Law.

  • Core Member of the DTI Advisory Forum on the Impact of Employment Policies

  • Rapporteur for the Study Group on Social Justice in European Law

  • Founder of the Society for European Contract Law ( (with Profs. Grundmann and Bianca)

  • Member of the European Group for Study of an Integrated Contract Law (Eugicol)

  • Invited lectures in recent years at the universities of Helsinki, Rome-Sapienza, Paris Sorbonne, Amsterdam, Genoa, Catania.



Professor Collins is on sabbatical leave in 2009/10


Labour Law, with Keith Ewing and Aileen McColgan (Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Building on their successful cases and materials book, Collins, Ewing and McColgan present an entirely restructured and freshly written new textbook on employment law. Comprehensive and engaging, it combines detailed analysis and commentary on the law with short contextual extracts to fully equip the labour law student. Carefully balancing clear exposition of legal principles with critical and scholarly analysis, this is the definitive textbook on the subject written by the UK's foremost employment law scholars. The book's 20-part structure maps logically onto either a full or half module employment law course. Chapter introductions and conclusions and an uncluttered text design carefully guide the student through the material. Innovative case studies show the law 'in action' and discussion of the globalised workplace gives the work a contemporary feel. Put simply, this is required reading for all students of the subject.

Networks as Connected Contracts, by Gunther Teubner, edited with an introduction by Hugh Collins (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2011).

Business networks consist of several independent businesses that enter into interrelated contracts, conferring on the parties many of the benefits of co-ordination achieved through vertical integration in a single firm, without creating a single integrated business such as a corporation or partnership. Retail franchises are one such example of a network, but the most common instance is a credit card transaction between a customer, retailer, and the issuer of the card. How should the law analyse this hybrid economic phenomenon? It is not exactly a market relationship– because that overlooks the co-ordination, relational qualities and interdependence of the contracts–nor is it a type of business association or company, since it lacks a centralised co-ordinating authority that receives the residual profits. This book is a translation of Gunther Teubner’s classic work on networks, setting out his novel legal concept of ‘connected contracts’. In it he explains how this concept addresses the problems posed by networks, such as the question whether the network as a whole can be held legally responsible for damage that it causes to third parties such as customers. A substantial introduction by Hugh Collins explains the analysis of networks in the context of German law and the systems theory.

Employment Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010) 2nd edition

This updated edition offers a fresh approach to the law governing employment relations, emphasising the contemporary policy themes of social inclusion, competitiveness, and the rights of citizenship in the workplace. It acts as a succinct and accessible overview for those new to the subject as well as an excellent summary for students.
    Employment Law covers all the main areas of the subject including contracts of employment, anti-discrimination law, trade unions, industrial action, and human rights in the workplace. It also discusses how UK law, under the influence of EU law and international protection of human rights, has been transformed for the twenty-first century by pursuing new goals such as helping to achieve a better balance between work and life, to improve the competitiveness of business through partnership institutions, and to provide superior protection for the basic rights of employees in the workplace. Offering frequent comparisons with the law of other countries, including the United States, the book also discusses the effectiveness of employment regulation as well as examining the different national and transnational methods available.

Standard Contract Terms in Europe, ed. Hugh Collins (Kluwer, 2008)

Ever since the Directive on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts of 1993, the European project has been working intensively towards harmonization of contract law across all EU Member States. To date, virtually none of the many problems that have arisen have been resolved. The SECOLA Annual Conference convened in Prague in 2005 to consider the specific topic of unfair terms and to imagine ways in which the obstacles raised by this provocative issue might be overcome. In this book, which presents revised versions of the papers presented at that conference, fourteen outstanding European scholars examine basic questions about the differing conceptions of contract law in the national legal systems of the Member States, divergent legal techniques such as interpretation of contract and divergent approaches to legal reasoning, and contrasting views about the nature of the problems presented by unfair terms in contracts.

The European Civil Code : The Way Forward (Cambridge University Press, 2008)

European Civil Code - coverArgues that the European Union should develop a civil code to provide uniform rules for contracts, property rights and protection against civil wrongs, thus drawing together the differing national traditions with respect to the detailed regulation of civil society. The benefits of such a code would lie not so much in facilitating cross-border trade, but in establishing foundations for a denser network of transnational relations of civil society, which in turn would help to overcome the present popular resistance to effective and functional political institutions at a European level. These principled foundations for a more inclusive and less 'balkanised' civil society in Europe also provide elements of a required European Social Model that offers necessary safeguards for consumers, workers and disadvantaged groups against the pressures of market forces in an increasingly global economic system.

Labour Law: Text and Materials 2nd edn (Hart Publishing: Oxford, 2005) (with K.D. Ewing and A. McColgan) 1093pp.

Labour Law - coverThe second edition of this book examines the law relating to employment, industrial relations, and labour market regulation in the United Kingdom, including relevant dimensions of EC law and policy. The text introduces selected extracts from cases, statutes, reports, official statistics, and academic commentary and analysis, and the whole is designed to provide all the materials needed for courses in labour law or employment law. The text emphasises recent developments including the expansion of legal regulation, new forms of work, the integration of labour law with broader policies aimed at the enhancement of competitiveness and the prevention of social exclusion, equal opportunities and the protection of rights in the workplace, and new mechanisms for worker participation in decisions.

The Law of Contract, 4th edition (Butterworths, London, 2003) 441pp.

Previous editions of this text have consistently been a favourite amongst common law lawyers. This new edition has been brought fully up to date and will be of interest to those studying 'advanced' obligations/common law modules. Undergraduates who study contract courses with a strong socio-legal tradition will also find this text invaluable as it uniquely grounds the nature of contract law in its social and political context

Regulating Contracts (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999) 386pp.

Regulating Contracts - coverUsing an interdisciplinary approach involving economics, sociology and law, Regulating Contracts explores fundamental questions about the purposes and effects of legal regulation of contractual relationships. What kind of social relation do contracts create, or, more precisely, how do contracts govern social interaction. How are contractual relations, or more generally, markets constructed? Does the law play a significant role in particular practices, and in particular, what do lawyers, courts, and legal sanctions contribute to the contractual social order? For what distributive purposes does the law attempt regulation?

The controversial conclusions of this study suggest that the law plays an insignificant role in the construction of markets, and that law and lawyers could provide better assistance by using indeterminate regulation that permits the recontextualization of legal reasoning. Legal regulation of contracts concerned with redistributive tasks, such as redressing unfairness, countering unjust power relations, and improving access to justice, is evaluated both with respect to the objectives of regulation and the search for the most efficient and efficacious form of regulation.

The argument in the book is that control of unfairness is both desirable and practicable, that power relations should be modified for the sake of efficiency, and that better access to justice is unhelpful to the resolution of contractual disputes.

Justice in Dismissal: The Law of Termination of Employment (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992) 277pp.

Marxism and Law (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1982) 159pp.

Marxism and Law - coverIn this introduction to Marxism and the law, Hugh Collins presents a unified and coherent view of Marxism, which he uses to examine the specific characteristics of legal institutions, rules, and ideals. He pays particular attention to the place of ideology in law, the distinction between base and superstructure, and the destiny of law in a Communist society.

His principal theme is the Marxist critique of the ideal of the Rule of Law. He argues that the main purpose of a Marxist theory of law is to expose the belief in the Rule of Law as being a subtle and pervasive ideology which serves to obscure the structures of class domination within the State.

The author frequently subjects the Marxist approach to criticism and he shows that many of the Marxist claims about law are unproven or misconceived. The book is written in straightforward non-technical language which requires no knowledge of either Marxism or law.


Selected articles
and chapters in books

'Flipping Wreck: Lex Mercatoria on the Shoals of Ius Cogens' [FORTHCOMING]

'The Hybrid Quality of European Private Law' [FORTHCOMING]

'Cosmopolitanism and Transnational Private Law' European Review of Contract Law (2012) 8 (3) pp.311-325

Discusses the conflicting judgments reached by English and French courts in proceedings to enforce an arbitral award in Dallah Real Estate & Tourism Holding Co v Pakistan, based on whether the arbitral tribunal had jurisdiction to determine a dispute concerning a trust set up by the Pakistan Government, despite the Pakistan Government's assertion that it was not a party to the contract or the arbitration agreement. Considers the power of the English courts under the Arbitration Act 1996 s.103(2). Asks whether the French or the English courts arrived at the right result, or whether neither did.

'Compensation for dismissal : in search of principle' Industrial Law Journal (2012) 41 (2) pp.208-227

Examines the extent to which the courts are abandoning legal principle in the setting of compensation levels for wrongful and unfair dismissal in the interest of preventing the circumvention of the restrictions on these damages imposed by Parliament.

'Constructive Dismissal and the West Lothian Question: Aberdeen City Council v McNeill' Industrial Law Journal  (2011) 4 pp.439-450

'Theories of Rights as Justifications for Labour Law' in G. Davidov and B. Langille, The Idea of Labour Law (Oxford University Press, 2011) pp.137-155

'The Constitutionalisation of Private Law as a Path to Social Justice' Hans-W Micklitz (ed), The Many Concepts of Justice in European Private Law (Edward Elgar, 2011) [FORTHCOMING]

'The Impact of Human Rights Law on Contract Law in Europe' European Business Law Review 4 (2011) pp. 425-436; University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 13/2011

This article examines the impact of human rights law on the implementation of contract law. While human rights law has focused on the relationship between citizen and state, the private law of contract has been viewed as governing the economic relations among citizens and business entities. The article examines the thesis that in Europe, this division is being broken down, as a result of two intellectual movements within legal thought.

'Harmonisation by Example: European Laws against Unfair Commercial Practices' Modern Law Review, 2010  73 (1) 89-118

This examination of the implementation of the European Union's Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices in the United Kingdom by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 assesses the likely impact on the national law governing the marketing practices of rogue traders, including its ambition to simplify and extend legal protection, and the likely success of the Directive in achieving the harmonisation of the laws and practices regulating marketing in Europe. In particular, the discussion evaluates the regulatory strategy of the Directive in its attempt to secure uniform laws through the combination of principles, rules, and concrete examples of prohibited practices. The paper also investigates the likely impact of the Regulations on the private law of contract and tort and the possibilities for improvements in a consumer's personal right of redress. 

'Lord Hoffmann and the Common Law of Contract' European Review of Contract Law, 2009 5 (4) 474-484

Examines how the leading opinions by Lord Hoffmann in the House of Lords have affected the development of the common law of contract, including his statements on: (1) the rule that the courts should not interfere with a contractual agreement on the ground of fairness; (2) party autonomy; (3) the use of the default rules of contract law as aids to interpretation; (4) the need to respect the settled law; and (5) the principles of contractual interpretation and the discernment of implied terms. Assesses the legacy of his jurisprudence.

'Private Life and Dismissal' [co-authors: Virginia Mantouvalou and Hugh Collins] Industrial Law Journal, 2009 38 (1) 133-138.

'Does Social Justice Require the Preservation of Diversity in the Private Laws of Member States of Europe?' Private Law in European Context Series, Volume 10 (2007) pp. 155-176

'A Workers'Civil Code? Principle of European Contract Law Evolving in EU Social and Economic Policy,' in M.W. Hesselink (ed) The Politics of a European Civil Code (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2006) 55-70.

'Legal Responses to the Standard Form Contract of Employment,' (2007) 36(1) Industrial Law Journal 2-18.

Having suggested that the advent of standard form contracts of employment is a neglected aspect of employment law, an assessment is made of two of the main legal responses to the potential unfairness of terms, namely implied terms and the application of section 3 the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. The Law Commission's proposed legislative reform is also examined. It is concluded that only by combining terms implied by the law with the statutory protection of reasonable expectations of employees will the law succeed in devising an adequate technique for rebalancing contracts of employment.

'The Protection of Civil Liberties in the Workplace' (2006) 69(4) Modern Law Review 619-631

'The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive' (2005) 1 European Review of Contract Law 417-441

'Harmonisation of European Contract Law: Citizenship, Diversity and Effectiveness' (2005) 7 Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies 80-97.

'The Right to Flexibility' in J. Conaghan and K. Rittich (eds), Labour Law, Work, and Family: Critical and Comparative Perspectives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) 99-124.

Labour Law, Work and Family - coverIn recent years, gender has emerged as an important focus of attention in discourse in and around labour law. Gender is gradually moving from the margin to the mainstream of labour law debate, particularly with the development of a 'family-friendly' policy agenda. This book consists of a series of essays from an international selection of leading legal scholars exploring the shifting boundary between work and family from a labour law perspective. The object is to assess the global implications for labour law and policy of women's changing role in paid and unpaid work.

The approaches adopted by the contributors' are diverse, both conceptually and geographically, encompassing analyses from Australia, North America, Canada, the UK, Europe and Japan, and including national and supra-national perspectives. Key themes informing the collection as a whole are the re-positioning of unpaid care work as integral to the performance and structure of productive activity; and consideration of the implications of recognizing the interdependence of work and family activities. In this way, the book seeks to develop a central theme from the previously published 'Labour Law in an Era of Globalization' (Conaghan, Fischl and Klare, eds. OUP), as part of an ongoing exploration into the distributive implications of economic and political globalization.

'The Freedom to Circulate Documents: Regulating Contracts in Europe'(2004) 10 European Law Journal 787-803.

Evidence collected by the European Commission indicates that insofar as the diversity between laws of national legal systems presents an obstacle to trade in the Internal Market, the problem consists of the inability of businesses to use their standard terms of business in cross-border trade with confidence. It is suggested that the solution to this problem lies not in legal integration through harmonisation of the private law of contract, but rather through the creation of procedures for autonomous agreements under which representatives of parties to standard types of contracts can agree upon model contracts containing fair ancillary terms.

'Discrimination, Equality, and Social Inclusion' (2003) 66 Modern Law Review 16-43.

Although laws against discrimination have conventionally been justified and articulated according to various conceptions of equality, tensions between different notions of equality undermine the coherence of these explanations. The aim of social inclusion is proposed as part of an alternative justification for discrimination laws. As well as exploring the meaning and implications of the policy of social inclusion for discrimination laws, the extent to which the law already embodies this idea is assessed with particular reference to the scope of anti-discrimination laws, proof of discrimination, justification defences, and positive discrimination. It is concluded that the goal of social inclusion has the potential to provide a vital ingredient in a more coherent, though not uncritical, account of the aims of anti-discrimination legislation.

'Discretionary Powers in Contracts', in D. Campbell, H. Collins, J. Wightman (eds), Implicit Dimension of Contract: Discrete, Relational, and Network Contracts (Oxford: Hart, 2003) 219-254.

Implicit Dimensions - coverThis collection of essays, derived from an international workshop, explores the significance of implicit understandings and tacit expectations of the parties to different kinds of contractual agreements, ranging from simple discrete transactions to long-term associational agreements such as those formed in companies. An interdisciplinary and comparative approach is used to investigate how the law comprehends and gives effect to the these implicit dimensions of contracts. The significance of this enquiry is found not only in relation to the interpretation of contracts in many different contexts, but more fundamentally in how social practices involved in making contracts should be analysed and comprehended.

'Is There a Third Way in Labour Law?' in J. Conaghan, R.M. Fischel, and K. Klare (eds), Labour Law in an Era of Globalisation (Oxford: OUP, 2002) 449-469.; reprinted in A. Giddens, (ed) The Global Third Way Debate (Cambridge : Polity Press, 2001) 300.

Left-of-centre governments are currently in power in many countries. In greater or lesser degree, all have moved away from traditional doctrines and policies of the left, recognizing that left values have to be pursued by different means today. The term 'third way' has become a widely accepted, if controversial, label understood by many modernizing social democrats to refer to these attempts at ideological and policy innovation. The debate that has arisen around these developments is a truly world-wide one, stretching from the US and Europe through to Asia, Australasia and Latin America.

Anthony Giddens has been perhaps the foremost contributor to the global third way discussion. In this book he has brought together some of the key contributions from around the world. Articles included cover, among other topics: the development of the third way policies in EU countries; welfare institutions and welfare reforms; economic and social policy; trust, the civic order and government; the strains and stresses of democracy; the regulation of corporate power; ecological modernization; the third way viewed from the South; global governance.

This book will be of interest to everyone concerned with the future of progressive politics. It provides perhaps the most comprehensive and integrated account to date of core developments in leftist political thinking

'Regulating Employment for Competitiveness' (2001) 30 Industrial Law Journal 17-47.

It is suggested that the dominant theme of labour law policy has become the enhancement of the competitiveness of business, which, at its core, requires the facilitation and stabilisation of flexible employment relations. Neither deregulation nor mandatory labour standards adequately achieve this goal. It requires instead different techniques of regulation of the employment relation, including a revision of the implied terms of contracts of employment, the creation of new legal institutions of workplace governance, and the enhancement of the ability of employers to make credible commitments in return for functional flexibility on the part of employees.

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