Academic profile

A graduate of Cambridge (Clare College) and Yale, David Howarth joined the Department in 1987 as an assistant lecturer in Law. He was subsequently promoted to lecturer, reader and in 2015 to professor. He became Head of Department in January 2020. He teaches constitutional law, private law, comparative environmental law and law and economics, having previously taught business law and environmental policy. In 2012 he founded and acted as Director of Cambridge's Master's in Public Policy (based in POLIS), where he taught courses on Public Law and Public Policy and Climate Change Policy and was Co-Chair of the University's Strategic Research Initiative in Public Policy. His research has covered both private law and public law topics and he is especially interested in issues of legal design (e.g. Law as Engineering (2014)). Outside the University, Prof. Howarth served as MP for Cambridge (2005-2010) having previously served as a Cambridge City Councillor for 17 years, for three of which he was Leader of the Council. From 2010 to 2018 he was a UK Electoral Commissioner. He became an honorary bencher of Middle Temple in November 2018




2022-23: teaching on Papers 2, 9 and 12 and Faculty of Law LLM


Research interests

Design and engineering concepts in law

Constitutional law (especially Parliament)

Relationship between Law, Policy and Politics

Tort Law

Private Law and the Environment



Key publications: 


  • Law as Engineering: Thinking about what lawyers do (Elgar, 2013)
  • Hepple and Matthews, Tort: Cases and Materials (Hart) 7th Edition (2016)
  • Textbook on Tort (Butterworths, 1995)) 

Book Chapters

  • ‘The British Constitution as an Improvised Order’, in Kyritsis and Lakin (eds), The Methodology of Constitutional Theory (Hart, 2022)
  • ‘Westminster versus Whitehall: what the Brexit debate revealed about an unresolved conflict at the heart of the British constitution’ in Doyle, McHarg and Murkens, The Brexit Challenge for Ireland and the United Kingdom: Constitutions Under Pressure (Cambridge University Press, 2021)
  • "Environmental Law and Private Law" in E. Lees and J. Vinuales, Oxford Handbook of Comparative Environmental Law (2019)
  • "Of Power Cables and Bridges: Individual Rights and Retrospectivity in Miller and Beyond" in M. Elliott, J. Williams and A. Young, The UK Constitution After Miller (2018)
  • "Lawyers and the Rule of Law" in C. May (ed.) Handbook on the Rule of Law (2018)
  • "Does Law Wear Out" in E. Subrahmanian (ed.), Engineering a Better Future: Interplay between Engineering, Social Sciences and Innovation (2018)
  • "Socio-economic analysis of the EU Common approach on liability rules and insurance related to connected and autonomous vehicles" (with C. Rohr and F. Dunkerley) In A Common EU Approach to Liability Rules and Insurance for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles European Added Value Assessment Accompanying the European Parliament's Legislative Own-initiative Report (rapporteur: Mady Delvaux): Study. European Parliamentary Research Service (2018) 
  • "Is the Lex Parliamentaria Really Law? The House of Commons as a legal system" in P. Evans (ed.) Essays on the History of Parliamentary Procedure (Hart, 2017)
  • "Removing Precariousness: A conceptual note" in C. Lageot and N. Martin-Papineau (eds) Approches franco-britanniques de la précarité (2016)
  • "The Politics of Public Law" in D. Feldman and M. Elliott (eds) The Cambridge Companion to Public Law (2015)
  • "Lawyers in the House of Commons" in D. Feldman (ed) Law in Politics,Politics in Law (2014)
  • '"The House of Lords: Central Policy Issues" in A. Fitzpatrick (ed), The End of the Peer Show? (Constitution Society, London), pp. 99-108
  • "Intentional Torts" in C. Sappideen and P. Vines (Ed), Fleming's Law of Torts (Thomson-Reuters, Sydney), pp. 23-48
  • "Defences to the Intentional Torts" in C. Sappideen and P. Vines (Ed), Fleming's Law of Torts (Thomson-Reuters, Sydney), pp. 87-115
  • "The General Conditions of Unlawfulness" in A. Hartkamp, M. Hesselink, E. Hondius, C.Mak and C.E. du Perron (Ed), Towards a European Civil Code 4th edition (revised and expanded) (Wolters Kluwer/ Ars Aequi Libri, Alphen aan den Rijn), pp. 845-885
  • "The Duty of Care" in K Oliphant et al Law of Tort (Butterworths Common Law Series) (Butterworths)
  • "'Economic Concepts: Markets and Prosperity', 'Economic Concepts: Welfare State', Rationality', 'Hobhouse', 'Rawls', and 'Weber'" in D Brack and E Randall Dictionary of Liberal Thought (Politico's Publishing Ltd)
  • "The General Conditions of Unlawfulness" in A Hartkamp et al Towards a European Civil Code (Kluwer, The Hague) 3rd Edition
  • "Profits from Breach of Contract" in S Hedley and M Halliwell (Ed), The Law of Restitution (Butterworths Common Law Series, 2002) (Butterworths), pp. 207-230
  • "Restitution for Torts and Miscellaneous Other Wrongs" in S Hedley and M Halliwell (Ed), The Law of Restitution (Butterworths Common Law Series, 2002) (Butterworths), pp. 231-272
  • "General Defences" in A Grubb (Ed), The Law of Tort (Butterworths Common Law Series, 2001) (Butterworths), pp. 145-185
  • "The Duty of Care" in A Grubb (Ed), The Law of Tort (Butterworths Common Law Series, 2001) (Butterworths), pp. 503-587
  • "The General Conditions of Unlawfulness" in Hartkamp, Heeselink, Hondius et al Towards a European Civil Code II (Kluwer Law International), pp. 397-431
  • "Is there a future for the intentional torts?" in P Birks (Ed), The Classification of Obligations (OUP), pp. 233-282
  • "Economic Loss in England: The search for coherence" in E Banakas (Ed), Civil Liability for Pure Economic Loss (Kluwer), pp. 27-54
  • "Making Sense Out of Nonsense" in Gross and Harrison (Ed), Jurisprudence: Cambridge Essays (OUP)


  • 'English tort law and the pandemic: the dog that has not barked'. Geneva Papers on Risk & Insurance - Issues & Practice (2023).
  • ‘Six Questions In Search of a Tort: Has the Supreme Court Transformed Negligence?’ Cambridge Law Journal, 81(1), 20-24.
  • ‘Nuisance, Planning and Human Rights: Throwing Away the Emergency Parachute’ Cambridge Law Journal 79(3) 394-397 (November 2020)
  • ‘What sort of Brexit do the British people want? A longitudinal study examining the trade-offs people would be willing to make in reaching a Brexit deal’ (with Lu H, Rohr C, Pollitt A and Grant J., Journal of Choice Modelling 37:01 Dec 2020
  • ‘Nuisance, Planning and Human Rights: Throwing Away the Emergency Parachute’ Cambridge Law Journal 79(3) 394-397 (November 2020)
  • ‘What do the British public think of inequality in health, wealth, and power?’ (with Marteau TM, Coutts AP, Huppert JL, Pinto PR) Soc Sci Med 222:198-206 Feb 2019
  • "The Place of Tort in the UK Transport System: The case of the British Railway" (2018) 9(2) Journal of European Tort Law 191-225
  • "Fear and Loathing in Dorset: No public authority duty to protect?" (2018) 77(2) Cambridge Law Journal 248-251
  •  "HLA Hart's Secondary Rules: What do 'officials' really think? (with Shona Wilson Stark) (2017) 13 International Journal of Law in Context (Published online: 24 April 2017, pp. 1-26)
  • "Noise and Nuisance" (2014) 73(2) Cambridge Law Journal 247-250
  • "The Liberal Democrats and the Functions of Policy" (2014) 24 Journal of Liberal History 24-33
  • '"Libel: Its Purpose and Reform" [2011] Modern Law Review 845-877
  • "The Backbench Business Committee of the House of Commons" [2011] Public Law 490-9
  • "Pecunia Non Olet" [2011] Cambridge Law Journal 499-501
  • "The Costs of Libel Actions: A Sceptical Note" [2011] Cambridge Law Journal 397-419
  • "The Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act 2008’" (2008) 8 Archbold News 6-10
  • "Many Duties of Care - Or A Duty of Care?" Notes from the Underground Oxford Journal of Legal Studies Volume 26, Number 3, 2006 , pp. 449-472
  • "Against Lumley v Gye" (2005) 68(2) Modern Law Review 195-232
  • "Poisoned Wells: "Proximity" and "Assumption of Responsibility" in Negligence. Sutradhar v NERC" [2005] Cambridge Law Journal 23-26
  • "Civil Liability for GM Farming: GM crops and the existing law" (2004) 12(5) Environmental Liability 185
  • "Public Authority Non-Liability: Spinning out of Control?" [2004] CLJ 542
  • "Civil Liability for GM Farming: unanswered questions" (2004) 12(4) Environmental Liability 137
  • "Nuisance and the House of Lords: Squaring the Triangle" [2004] Journal of Environmental Law 233
  • "The House of Lords and the Animals Act: Closing the Stable Door" [2003] CLJ 548-551
  • "Is Law A Humanity (Or is it more like Engineering?)" (2003) 3(1) Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 7-26
  • "Confidence, Data Protection and the Supermodel" [2003] C.L.J. 17
  • "Muddying the Waters: Tort Law and the Environment" [2002] Washburn Law Journal 469-513
  • "Privacy, Confidentiality and the Cult of Celebrity" [2002] CLJ 264-268
  • "Three Forms of Responsibility: On the Relationship Between Tort Law and the Welfare State" [2001] CLJ 553-580
  • "On the Question 'What is Law?' (2000) 6(3) Res Publica 259" (2000) 6(3) Res Publica 259
  • "Complexity Strikes Back: Valuation in the House of Lords" (2000) 8 Tort Law Rev 85
  • "My Brother's Keeper: Liability for the acts of third parties" [1994] Legal Studies 88
  • "Negligence after Murphy: Time to rethink" [1991] CLJ 58-99
  • "The Autonomy of Labour Law: A reply to Professor Wedderburn" 17 Industrial L.J. 11 (1988)
  • "O Madness of Discourse: Causation and the Law" 96 Yale L.J. 1389-1424 (1987)
  • "Neutral Principles for Employers" [1987] CLJ 227
  • "Frustration for Labour Lawyers" [1987] CLJ 47
  • "Church and State in Employment Law" [1986] Cambridge L.J. 404
  • "Bristow v. City Petroleum; Sealand v. Barratt" [1986] Industrial L.J. 190
  • "The Truck Act 1896 - Last Rites" [1986] CLJ 30
  • "A History of British Regional Policy in the 1970s" 2 Yale & Policy Rev. (1984) 215-255
  • "More concern for cause" 4 Legal Studies 131 (1984)

Book Reviews

  • Trials of the State: Law and the Decline of Politics. By Jonathan Sumption. (2020) Cambridge Law Journal, 79(1), 177-180.
  • 'Bowing and Scraping: How the law favours the Royal Family' (2017) Times Literary Supplement 30 June 2017 p 32
  • "A Coalition is Born" [2011] Journal of Liberal History 40-45
  • "In the Theatre State" Times Literary Supplement 11 March 2011, p 23 
  • "Towards a Guilt-Free Society" Times Literary Supplement 5 June 1998, pp. 11-12


  • What sort of Brexit do the British people want? A Longitudinal Study' (KCL and RAND Europe, 2018) (with C. Rohr et al.)
  • 'What Sort of Brexit Do the British People Want? A Proof of Concept Study' (RAND Europe, 2017) ( (with C. Rohr et al.),
  • "The Jackson Review: Lessons and Consequences" (in K. Oliphant et al. On a slippery slope (Working Group on Civil Justice, 2011),, Feb 2011)

Conference Papers

  • 'Tort Law and the Pandemic’ – 19th Joint Seminar of the European Association of Law and Economics and the Geneva Association, 23 June 2022, Vienna, Austria
  • ‘Meet the Author – Law as Engineering by David Howarth’ Socio-Legal Studies Association Conference, 8 April 2022, (online)
  • ‘Parliamentary Privilege – comparing Westminster and Holyrood’ Study of Parliament Group Conference, 7 Jan 2022, (online)
  • ‘The Elections Bill’ Briefing for Board of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, 27 October 2021, (online)
  • ‘Liberal Equality’ Beveridge Lecture 29 July 2021 (online)
  • ‘Ecological Harm in English Tort Law’ British Association of Comparative law 30 March 2021 (online)
  • Introduction, Conference on 100th Anniversary of Keynes’ ‘Economic Consequences of the Peace’, 9 September 2019, Cambridge
  • ‘The process of Brexit and its effect on UK and the EU development policymaking’ Sinews of Sustainable Development Conference, 14 February 2019, Cambridge
  • ‘Politics and Academia: Weber updated’ Bridging the Gap, Political Studies Association Early Career Network Conference, 6 December 2018, Birmingham
  • ‘Salami Slicing’ Workshop on Post-Brexit Options for the UK: New Legal Analysis, 16 Nov 2018, Cambridge
  • The Constitutional Implications of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, UK in a Changing Europe Workshop, 13 November 2018, King’s College London
  • ‘Legal Aspects of Brexit’ Carleton College 20 July 2018
  • ‘Emerging Issues’ Lawyering for Legislatures Conference University of Hull 20 April 2018, Hull
  • ‘The Place of Tort Law in the UK Public Transport System’ Annual Conference on European Tort Law 7 April 2018 Vienna, Austria
  • ‘Political Equality and Electoral Law’ Social Science and Law Interdisciplinary Conference - March 2 2018, Jesus College, Cambridge
  • The British Constitution as an Improvised Order (Reading 2017)
  • Miller and the Constitution (Melbourne 2017)
  • Private Law and the Environment (Cambridge 2017)

Recent Blog posts and Journalism



Other publications: 

  • Towards a Liberal Future (ALDC, 2018) (with Bernard Greaves)
  • Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, in Brack, Little, and Ingham, British Liberal Leaders (Biteback, 2015)
  • Liberalism, Environmentalism and Green Politics, in Brack, Burrell, Stockley and Tuffrey, The Green Book (Biteback, 2013)
  • On Optimism in Politics, in A. Duff (ed.), Making the Difference: Essays in Honour of Shirley Williams (Biteback, 2010)
  • Centre: in medias res, in Kevin Hickson, Political Thought of the Liberals and Liberal Democrats since 1945 (Manchester UP, 2009) 
  • What is Social Liberalism? in D. Brack, R. Grayson and D. Howarth Reinventing the State (Politico's, 2007)
  • "Energy: A sustainable non-nuclear future" in D. Astle et al Britain after Blair (Profile, 2006)


Current PhD students

Katherine Ollerenshaw

Shubham Jain


Recent PhD students

Henri van Soest



Public policy, public law, private law, environmental law