Professor of Criminal Law and Legal Theory
Nicola Lacey holds a Senior Research Fellowship at All Souls College. She moved to Oxford in October 2010, having held a chair in Criminal Law and Legal Theory at the London School of Economics since 1998. Before that, she was Professor of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London (1995 to 1997); Fellow and Tutor in Law at New College and CUF Lecturer at Oxford (1984 to 1995); and Lecturer in Laws at University College, London (1981 to 1984). She has held visiting appointments at the Humboldt University in Berlin, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University, New York University, Yale and Harvard. She is an Honorary Fellow of New College and of University College, and a Fellow of the British Academy.
In December 2011 she was awarded the Hans Sigrist Prize by the University of Bern: http://www.diesacademicus.unibe.ch/content/diesacademicus2011/preise/index_ger.html
Nicola's research is in criminal law and criminal justice, with a particular focus on comparative and historical scholarship. Over the last few years, she has been working on the development of ideas of criminal responsibility in England since the 18th Century, and on the comparative political economy of punishment. Her next project will be a comparative study combining analysis of penal policies with analysis of practices of legal responsibility-attribution in selected areas of criminalisation, framing these issues within a broad comparative political economy of crime and control. Nicola also has research interests in legal and social theory, in feminist analysis of law, in law and literature, and in biography.
N Lacey, A Life of H.L.A. Hart: The Nightmare and the Noble Dream (winner of the Swiney Prize and shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography) (Oxford University Press 2004)
N Lacey, 'Community, Culture and Criminalisation' in Rowan Cruft, Matthew H. Kramer and Mark R. Reiff. (eds), Crime, Punishment and Responsibility: The Jurisprudence of Antony Duff (Oxford University Press 2011 2011) [...]
This essay sets out from Duff’s Punishment, Communication and Community (2001), and poses the question of whether it is possible to pursue the goal of a criminal law which realizes the values and represents the interests of a ‘liberal community’ in a world of radical value pluralism. I shall examine this question by means of a case study: that of the cultural defence. Over the last twenty years, advocates of the cultural defence have argued that normative considerations of political morality dictate that differences in experience and world-view should modify the way in which criminal law is applied, potentially adjusting the standard applied to individuals. How convincing, I ask, is this argument? Can it be reconciled with Duff’s liberal communitarian vision of criminal justice? And, to the extent that it cannot be so reconciled, does this undermine the case for the cultural defence, or rather necessitate a revision of Duff’s argument?
N Lacey, 'Differentiating among Penal States' (2010) 61 British Journal of Sociology 778 [Review]
N Lacey, 'Historicising Criminalisation: Conceptual and Empirical Issues' (2009) 72 Modern Law Review 936
N Lacey and L H Zedner, 'Legal Constructions of Crime' in M Maguire, R Morgan, and R Reiner (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (5th edn) (Oxford University Press 2012)
N Lacey, 'Out of the Witches\' Cauldron?: Reinterpreting the Context and Re-assessing the Significance of the Hart-Fuller Debate' in Peter Cane (ed), The Hart-Fuller Debate Fifty Years On (Hart Publishing 2010)
N Lacey, 'Philosophy, Political Morality and History: Explaining the Enduring Resonance of the Hart-Fuller Debate' (2008) 83 New York University Law Review 1059
N Lacey, 'Political Systems and Criminal Justice: The Prisoners\' Dilemma After the Coalition ' (2012) Current Legal Problems
N Lacey, 'Psychologising Jekyll, Demonising Hyde: The Strange Case of Criminal Responsibility' (2010) 4 Criminal Law and Philosophy 110
N Lacey, 'Punishment in the Perspective of Comparative Political Economy' (2012) 44 Kriminologische Journal 9-31 9
N Lacey, C Wells and O Quick, Reconstructing Criminal Law, Third Edition (Cambridge University Press 2003)
N Lacey, John Braithwaite, Christine Parker and Colin Scott (eds), Regulating Law (Oxford University Press 2004)
N Lacey, State Punishment (Routledge 1988)
N Lacey, State Punishment: Political Principles and Community Values (Routledge 1988)
N Lacey and E Frazer, The Politics of Community (Harvester Wheatsheaf/University of Toronto Press 1993)
N Lacey, The Prisoners' Dilemma and Political Systems: The Impact of Proportional Representation on Criminal Justice in New Zealand (42, Victoria University of Wellington Law Review 2011) [...]
This is the text of the 2010 Shirley Smith Address delivered by Nicola Lacey on 8 December 2010, organised by the Wellington Women in Law Committee. The lecture offers an analysis of why New Zealand has attached itself to increasingly punitive criminal justice policies over the last 25 years, and considers in particular how far this has to do with the shape of New Zealand’s political system.
N Lacey, The Prisoners\' Dilemma: Political Economy and Punishment in Contemporary Democracies (Cambridge University Press 2008)
N Lacey, 'The Resurgence of Character: Criminal Responsibility in the Context of Criminalisation' in Antony Duff and Stuart Green (eds), Philosophical Foundations of Criminal Law (Oxford University Press 2011) [...]
In this paper, I further develop the diagnosis of a revival of character in contemporary criminal law. First, I offer a more differentiated conceptual framework for identifying and analysing the waxing and waning influence of character in criminal law. In doing so I set out, deliberately, from a broad definition of character as a pattern or practice of responsibility-attribution which is premised in whole or in part on an evaluation or estimation of the quality of the defendant’s (manifested or assumed) disposition as distinct from his or her conduct. Second, drawing on this broad model of character, I aim to demonstrate in greater detail the variety of ways in which contemporary criminal law is marked by a resurgence of character, paying particular attention to the ways in which this resurgence both resembles and differs from the reliance on character typical of pre-modern or 18th Century criminal justice, and realises itself with particular force within certain areas of criminalization. The broad model of character serves to illuminate family relationships between a range of ostensibly varied phenomena. In particular, by including within my purview the notions of not only bad character as constitutive of guilt but also bad character as probative of guilt, I am able to explore the ways in which, in the practical context of criminal justice, the recognition of the latter may shade into a practice closer to the former. In other words, I argue that criminal conviction, understood within prevailing conventions of communication, is coming more frequently to imply a judgment of criminal character. The upshot of this analysis is that the doctrinal arrangements of substantive criminal law, though not without importance, are in themselves rather rarely determinative of whether a character- or a capacity- approach to criminal responsibility prevails. Hence, third, I sketch an extra-doctrinal explanation of why we have seen a resurgence of interest in and reliance on ideas of character responsibility: one which finds the roots of the ideology of responsibility which shapes the criminal law in broad practices of criminalization, themselves influenced by a broader political, economic and social context. Finally, I draw some conclusions from this analysis for methodology in criminal law theory, and in particular for the appropriateness of a framework which locates its interpretation of criminal responsibility primarily within a conceptual analysis of legal doctrine in isolation from an analysis of the context of the criminal process, the rules of criminal procedure, the substantive scope of criminal law, and patterns of criminalization and punishment more generally.
N Lacey, The Way We Lived Then: The Legal Profession and the Nineteenth Century Novel (33, Sydney Law Review 2011) [...]
This paper contributes to the use of the novel as an interpretive resource in legal and social history. It focuses on an issue which appears to have been neglected amid the rich skeins of recent debate. Particularly in relation to criminal defence, from the debate in the run-up to the advent of general legal representation in the Prisoners’ Counsel Act 1836 through to James Fitzjames Stephen’s interventions in defence of lawyers in the 1850s and 1860s, the ethical standards of advocacy and of legal representation more generally were a salient preoccupation of the novel, as of contemporary public debate in newspapers and reviews. Given the significant expansion of the legal profession, and the gradual changes in its organisation, this was hardly surprising. But amid the illuminating interpretation of this mutual engagement between (the overlapping categories of) novelists, journalists, essayists and lawyers, little has been done by way of contextualising this debate within the development of the professions, and of professionalism more generally, in 19th century Britain. As I shall try to show, an understanding of the struggle to come to terms with the extraordinary — yet incomplete — rise of professionalism, both in and beyond law, can be helpful in explaining the form which literary representations of law took, and the fact that certain kinds of lawyer and of legal practice were singled out for particular literary attention and indeed opprobrium. In asking how attitudes to professionalisation affected the literary treatment of law, and what the developing treatment of legal themes in the novel can tell us about contemporary understandings of professionalism and of what justified and legitimated it, I will focus in particular on the novels of Anthony Trollope, while drawing examples and analogies from the work of other authors.
N Lacey, Unspeakable Subjects: Feminist Essays in Legal and Social Theory (Hart Publishing 1998)
N Lacey, 'Why Globalisation Doesn't Spell Convergence: Models of Institutional Variation and the Comparative Political Economy of Punishment ' in Adam Crawford (ed), International and Comparative Criminal Justice and Urban Governance ( Cambridge University Press 2011)
N Lacey, Women, Crime and Character: From Moll Flanders to Tess of the d\'Urbervilles (Oxford University Press 2008)
N Lacey, '‘Punishment, (Neo)Liberalism and Social Democracy’, in (eds.)(Sage Publishing 2012) pp. 260-280' in Jonathan Simon and Richard Sparks (eds), The Sage Handbook of Punishment and Society (Sage Publishing 2012) [...]
In this essay, I address recent attempts to understand the relevance of broadly political forces and institutions in shaping the practice and the social meaning of punishment. I focus on an argument about the relevance of the political which has been especially influential in the punishment and society field during the last decade. This is the argument that political systems can usefully be characterised as broadly liberal or neoliberal, or as social democratic: and that the decline or attenuation of social democracy, and the concomitant rise of (neo)liberalism has been associated with an intensification of penality. I call this the ‘neoliberal penality thesis’ I set out what I take to be the key arguments for that thesis, before presenting a critical analysis of the utility of such a broad conceptualisation of political systems.
N Lacey, '‘Reflections on the Philosophy of Law’' (2012) Rivista di filosofia del diritto 91