Professor Neil Duxbury

Professor of English Law

LSE Law School

Room No
Cheng Kin Ku Building 7.11
Key Expertise

About me

Neil Duxbury began his academic career at the LSE in 1987, moving to the University of Manchester the following year. He returned to the LSE in 2007.

Administrative support:

Research interests

 Neil is currently writing about sources of law.



The Intricacies of Dicta and Dissent (Cambridge University Press, 2021)

Common-law judgments tend to be more than merely judgments, for judges often make pronouncements that they need not have made had they kept strictly to the task in hand. Why do they do this? The Intricacies of Dicta and Dissent examines two such types of pronouncement, obiter dicta and dissenting opinions, primarily as aspects of English case law. Neil Duxbury shows that both of these phenomena have complex histories, have been put to a variety of uses, and are not amenable to being straightforwardly categorized as secondary sources of law. This innovative and unusual study casts new light on – and will prompt lawyers to pose fresh questions about – the common law tradition and the nature of judicial decision-making.

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Lord Kilmuir: A Vignette (Hart Publishing, 2015)

This short book examines the career and achievements of Lord Kilmuir (David Maxwell Fyfe), a British politician and former Lord Chancellor who is mainly remembered for some poor and unpopular decisions but who nevertheless made a considerable mark on twentieth-century legal development. After the Second World War, Kilmuir not only excelled as a fellow prosecutor with Justice Robert Jackson at Nuremberg but also played a significant role in the effort to restore European unity, particularly through his involvement in the drafting of the European Convention on Human Rights. Drawing on archival and other primary sources, this book considers Kilmuir’s initiatives both at home and in Europe, and concludes by marking out his achievements as a pro-European Conservative who not only favoured the right of individual petition to a supra-national, Convention-enforcing court but who also favoured parliament legislating to replicate Convention norms in domestic law.

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Elements of Legislation (Cambridge UP, 2012)

In Elements of Legislation, Neil Duxbury examines the history of English law through the lens of legal philosophy in an effort to draw out the differences between judge-made and enacted law and to explain what courts do with the laws that legislatures enact. He presents a series of rigorously researched and carefully rehearsed arguments concerning the law-making functions of legislatures and courts, the concepts of legislative supremacy and judicial review, the nature of legislative intent and the core principles of statutory interpretation.

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The Nature and Authority of Precedent (Cambridge UP, 2008)

Neil Duxbury examines how precedents constrain legal decision-makers and how legal decision-makers relax and avoid those constraints. There is no single principle or theory which explains the authority of precedent but rather a number of arguments which raise rebuttable presumptions in favour of precedent-following. This book examines the force and the limitations of these arguments and shows that although the principal requirement of the doctrine of precedent is that courts respect earlier judicial decisions on materially identical facts, the doctrine also requires courts to depart from such decisions when following them would perpetuate legal error or injustice. Not only do judicial precedents not 'bind' judges in the classical-positivist sense, but, were they to do so, they would be ill suited to common-law decision-making. Combining historical inquiry and philosophical analysis, this book will assist anyone seeking to understand how precedent operates as a common-law doctrine.

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Frederick Pollock and the English Juristic Tradition (Oxford UP, 2004)

Frederick Pollock and the English Juristic Tradition provides the first detailed historical account of one of England's great jurists.

Until the later decades of the twentieth century, law developed little as an academic discipline in England. One exceptional period of intellectual growth, however, was the late-Victorian era, when a number of brilliant and now celebrated jurists produced works and devised projects which had a crucial impact on the development of English legal thought. Among this band of jurists was the great legal treatise writer, historian, and editor, Frederick Pollock. Compared with many of his contemporaries, however, Pollock has been largely overlooked by modern legal historians.

Drawing upon a vast array of sources, Neil Duxbury offers a detailed picture of this enigmatic figure, examining Pollock's career, jurisprudence, philosophy of the common law, treatise writing, and editorial initiatives, and shows that Pollock's contribution to the development of English law and juristic inquiry is both complex and crucial.

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Jurists and Judges (Oxford: Hart, 2001)

Jurists and Judges examines the nature of academic influence, and particularly the influence of juristic commentary on judicial decision-making. Focusing on three legal systems, its author argues that inter-jurisdictional comparisons of juristic influence are often simplistic and inattentive to problems of incommensurability. The centrepiece of the study is a detailed chapter offering a nuanced history of juristic influence in England. All academic lawyers who reflect upon the history and objectives of their profession — who, in other words, wonder what it is that they are about — will profit from reading this most informative and engaging book.

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Random Justice (Oxford UP, 1999)

Chance inevitably plays a role in law but it is not often that we consciously try to import an element of randomness into a legal process. Random Justice: On Lotteries and Legal Decision-Making explores the potential for the use of lotteries in social, and particularly legal, decision-making contexts. Utilizing a variety of disciplines and materials, Neil Duxbury considers in detail the history, advantages, and drawbacks of deciding issues of social significance by lot and argues that the value of the lottery as a legal decision-making device has generally been underestimated.

The very fact that there exists widespread resistance to the use of lotteries for legal decision-making purposes betrays a commonly held belief that legal processes are generally more important than are legal outcomes. Where, owing to the existence of indeterminacy, the process of reasoning is likely to be excessively protracted and the reasons provided strongly contestable, the most cost-efficient and impartial decision-making strategy may well be recourse to lot. Aversion to this strategy, while  generally understandable, is not necessarily rational. Yet in law, as Professor Duxbury demonstrates, reason is generally valued more highly than is rationality.

The lottery is often conceived to be a decision-making device that operates in isolation. Yet lotteries can frequently and profitably be incorporated into other decision-frameworks. The book concludes by controversially considering how lotteries might be so incorporated and also advances the thesis that it may sometimes be sensible to require that adjudication takes place in the shadow of a lottery.

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Patterns of American Jurisprudence (Oxford UP, 1995)

This unique study offers a comprehensive analysis of American jurisprudence from its emergence in the later stages of the nineteenth century through to the present day. The author argues that it is a mistake to view American jurisprudence as a collection of movements and schools which have emerged in opposition to each other. By offering a highly original analysis of legal formalism, legal realism, policy science, process jurisprudence, law and economics, and critical legal studies, he demonstrates that American jurisprudence has evolved as a collection of themes which reflect broader American intellectual and cultural concerns.

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