Dr Joseph Spooner

Dr Joseph Spooner

Associate Professor of Law

LSE Law School

Room No
Cheng Kin Ku Building 6.32
Key Expertise

About me

Dr Joseph Spooner is an Associate Professor at LSE Law School. He researches issues of law, policy, and politics relating to household debt, over-indebtedness, and financialisation. He has obtained policy experience contributing to the World Bank’s Report on the Treatment of the Insolvency of Natural Persons (2013), as well as working on the Law Reform Commission of Ireland’s project on personal debt management and debt enforcement (2010-2012). Joseph has published articles on the law and politics of bankruptcy in leading journals including the Journal of Law and Society and the Modern Law Review, and is the author of Bankruptcy: the Case for Relief in an Economy of Debt. This book explores the unsustainable nature of our contemporary debt-dependent economy, and argues that bankruptcy law is uniquely situated to offer public policy benefits as a mechanism of social insurance against the risks inherent in this economic order.

Administrative support: Law.Reception@lse.ac.uk

Research interests

Dr Spooner’s research agenda aims to highlight the underappreciated role of markets, and particularly household debt markets, as sites of class conflict and inequality. Evidence since the Great Recession has questioned the traditional equity-efficiency trade-off, in highlighting the economic costs of inequality. From Covid-19 to the Cost-of-Living Crisis, failures in consumer markets are increasingly recognised as producing negative aggregate economic outcomes, as well as distributing resources regressively. This research seeks to illuminate the role of law and legal “ground rules” in underpinning regressive market distributions, and so uncovering the underrecognized contribution of law to inequality.

Dr Spooner researches in the Law-and-Society tradition, while incorporating contemporary elements of Modern Legal Realism and Law and Political Economy. He aims to explore law in its social context, and incorporates empirical approaches alongside theoretical perspectives and doctrinal critique. One research project uses qualitative methods including process tracing and content analysis to explore the political economy of bankruptcy law reform, and particularly the influence of interest groups in shaping legislation. Another project deploys quantitative methods to study aggressive debt collection techniques used by English local authorities to pursue local tax debts, finding that the most intensive debt recovery activities occur in the most deprived local authority areas.

External activities

Dr Spooner’s work links research to the world through its policy impact. His research has been cited in major policy documents published by UK government officials, the World Bank, and the IMF.

Recognition of Dr Spooner’s research has led him to contribute significantly to UK government policymaking exercises, including the Insolvency Service’s Call for Evidence published in 2022.

Dr Spooner has also provided technical expertise to the World Bank in relation to a number of national law reform projects. He contributed to the World Bank’s Report on the Treatment of the Insolvency of Natural Persons.

You can find out more about Dr Spooner’s research through LSE podcasts and blogs.



Bankruptcy: The Case for Relief in an Economy of Debt (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

click here for publisher's site