Professor Warren Marwood Swain

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

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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 has published a monograph on the history of the law of contract with the Cambridge University Press. A book on Auatralian contract law written with Professor Andrew Stewart and Dr Karen Fairweather, Contract Law: Principles and Context was published by the Cambridge University Press in 2019. Along with Professor David Campbell, Professor Swain is editor of Reimagining Contract Law Pedagogy published by Routledge in 2019. 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 several 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




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 Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. He is a member of the editorial boards for two journals, Legal History and Rechtsgeschichte. He is co-editor of the New Zealand Business Law Quarterly. He Secretary for the Selden Society in New Zealand. Professor Swain was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in the UK in recognition of his contribution to historical scholarship.


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)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Swain, W. (2020). ‘The Great Britain of the South’: the Law of Contract in Early Colonial New Zealand. American Journal of Legal History, 60 (1), 30-47. 10.1093/ajlh/njz019
  • Swain, W. (2020). Without the Power to Drink or Contract. Edinburgh Law Review, 24 (1), 26-48. 10.3366/elr.2020.0598
  • Swain, W. (2020). A Reputation for Boldness: Statutory Reform of Contract Law in New Zealand. In T. T. Arvind, J. Steele (Eds.) Contract Law and the Legislature (pp. 107-124). Oxford: Hart Publishing.
  • Stewart, A., Swain, W., & Fairweather, K. (2019). Contract Law Principles and Context. Cambridge University Press. Pages: 552.
  • 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


Contact details

Alternative contact

Yaél Philander
Executive Assistant to the Dean and Deputy Dean
  88027   |    P: 09 923 8027  

Office hours

By appointment.

Primary office location

9 EDEN CRESCENT - Bldg 801
Level 4, Room 414
New Zealand

Web links