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Education CV


  • BCL, Balliol College, University of Oxford (2005-2005)
  • BA, Jurisprudence, Balliol College, University of Oxford (2001-2004)

Professional Qualifications & Experience

  • Employed Barrister and Senior Associate, Marine and International Trade, Clyde & Co LLP (2011-2019)
  • Employed Barrister and Associate, Fishburns LLP (2008-2011)
  • Judicial Assistant to Dyson LJ, Court of Appeal of England and Wales (2007)
  • Pupillage, 9 Stone Buildings (2006-2007)
  • Called to the Bar, Gray's Inn (2006)

Formal research and teaching posts

  • Volunteer assistant, adult education class in basic mathematics, Guildford College (2014-2016)
  • Researcher (book on construction insurance, authored by Paul Reed), Hardwicke Buildings (2008)

Fields of research

Philosophy of law: rules, normativity, the semantics of legal discourse, authority, law and information, social ontology

Doctrinal law: contract law, torts, commercial law, arbitration, procedure


Thesis: 'The Technicality of Law'


Do legal statements - "Smith is liable to Jones", "Blackacre belongs to Bashir", "Theft is an offence", etc - have to be read as asserting that some person ought (or ought to be be treated as empowered) to act in some manner? Does making such a statement commit the person uttering it to a normative position?

Ever since the publication of The Concept of Law by HLA Hart in 1961, it has been a matter of near consensus amongst legal theorists that legal discourse is normatively charged. It is widely assumed (a) that if one declines to view law in normative terms, one is forced to accede to the view of John Austin that laws are sanction-backed commands, and (b) that, in any event, normativity is a critical feature of law that an adequate theory of law must acknowledge.

My thesis, in a nutshell, aims to examine and unpick both of these assumptions. To this end I am exploring the theoretical affordances of constititive rules, social ontology and information theory - which taken together (I suspect) will do a better job of explaining legal norms and other legal objects ('liability', 'offence', etc) than either a model based on sanctions or one based on normative attitudes. Meanwhile, I am seeking to probe some of the shortcomings of the orthodox view (per Hart, Raz, Shapiro and many others) that legal norms have the paradigmatic form 'A ought to X' where A is a person and X is an action - in particular, the embarrassing fact that huge numbers of laws fail to indicate that any person ought to (or may) undertake any action at all (eg rules defining what counts as valid contract) unless they are re-construed as fragments of other duty-imposing or power-conferring rules. 


Dr Lars Vinx

Start Date

Jan 2020