Professor Warren Swain

BA,MA, BCL, D.Phil (Oxon.)

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Deputy Dean


Warren Swain is a Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Auckland. He is Deputy Dean. He was formerly a Professor at the TC Beirne School of Law, the University of Queensland. He was educated at Hertford College, at the University of Oxford where he was awarded a BA, MA, BCL and D.Phil. He was a College Scholar and Barings Senior Scholar and a recipient of the Gibb’s Prize proxime accessit . Subsequently he was a stipendiary lecturer at Hertford College and a lecturer at the Universities of Birmingham and Durham in the UK.    

Research | Current

Professor Swain’s research is concerned with the history of private law and intellectual history in so far as it relates to law. He is also interested in legal biography. He recently published a monograph on the history of the law of contract with the Cambridge University Press, UK and, with others, an edited collection on the leading tort authority Hedley Byrne v. Heller.  A contract textbook, written with Professor Andrew Stewart and Dr Karen Fairweather, Contract Law: Principles and Context with the Cambridge University Press and to be published in 2019. Along with Professor David Campbell, Professor Swain is editor of Reimagining Contract Law Pedagogy published by Routledge in 2019. He is also writing a monograph about the history of the law of contract in Australia and New Zealand between 1788 and 2000. Professor Swain has published numerous articles and book chapters on a wide variety of aspects of private law in England, Australia and New Zealand. 

Professor Swain is interested in supervising doctoral research in areas including:


The history of the law of contract in England, New Zealand and Australia

The history of the law of tort in England, New Zealand and Australia

The history of the law of unjust enrichment in England, New Zealand and Australia

Legal biography

The modern law of contract in New Zealand  

Codification of private law

Teaching | Current

LAW 241- Law of Contract



Postgraduate supervision

Professor Swain welcomes inquiries from potential research students in any aspects of the history of the law of contract, the law of tort, the law of unjust enrichment in England, Australia or New Zealand. 


Professor Swain is a Visting Fellow of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. He is a member of the editorial boards for two journals, Legal History and Rechtsgeschichte. He is Secretary for the Selden Society in New Zealand.


Deputy Dean

Areas of expertise

Professor Swain has expertise in the law of contract in England and Wales, New Zealand and Australia. He is widely published in the history of contract, tort and unjust enrichment.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Swain, W. (2020). Without the Power to Drink or Contract. Edinburgh Law Review, 24 (1), 26-48. 10.3366/elr.2020.0598
  • Stewart, A., Swain, W., & Fairweather, K. (2019). Contract Law Principles and Context. Cambridge University Press. Pages: 552.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Karen Fairweather
  • Swain, W. (2019). Who Pays for the Grog? The Contractual and Commercial Law Reform Committee, Law Reform in New Zealand. New Zealand Business Law Quarterly, 25 (1), 17-29.
  • Swain, W. (2019). The Common law and the Code civil: The curious case of the law of contract. In Moréteau O, A. Masferrer, Modéer KA (Eds.) Comparative legal history (pp. 379-399). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. Related URL.
  • Swain, W., & Campbell, D. (2019). Reimagining contract law pedagogy: A new agenda for teaching. 10.4324/9781315178189
  • Swain, W. (2018). Vicarious liability: A pailful of slops and other hazards. In K. Barker, R. Grantham (Eds.) Apportionment in private law (pp. 89-110). Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing. Related URL.
  • Swain, W. (2018). Echoes of the Past: The 1975 EEC Referendum Forty Years On. Cardozo Law Review, 39 (3), 947-966. Related URL.

Contact details

Office hours

By appointment.

Primary office location

1-11 SHORT STREET - Bldg 810
Level 5, Room 511
New Zealand