Andrew Dickinson

Andrew DickinsonPlease tell us a bit about your background.

I am a Sandgrounder by birth, but moved to the opposite corner of England after my dad (an industrial chemist) took a new job in Broadstairs, Kent in 1982. I studied at Dane Court Grammar School before arriving in Oxford in 1990 as an undergraduate at St Edmund Hall (a remarkable piece of good fortune), with Adrian Briggs and Derrick Wyatt as my College tutors. After completing my undergraduate degree, I stayed for another year to study for the BCL.

I returned to Oxford in 2013 as a Fellow at St Catherine's College, and live in Headington with my wife, Ann Marie, and my two children, Jonathan and Nell.  

What led you to a career in academia?

I am not quite an accidental academic, but at the same time the path was not deliberately chosen. After leaving Oxford, I joined Clifford Chance, and spent more than 20 years with the firm, as a trainee, associate and consultant, specialising in commercial litigation and international law matters. The firm encouraged me to pursue my interests in the academic side of law, allowing me time to undertake research and to write. I qualified as a solicitor advocate, which gave me confidence, previously lacking, in public speaking.

In 2010, I took the opportunity to teach private international law courses at the University of Sydney and, for the following three years, held a fractional position at the University, commuting each spring to sit on the back deck of the Manly Ferry on the way to classes. A "now or never" moment towards the end of my time there (and a little bit of encouragement from Adrian) led me to seek a full time position in Oxford. I was lucky enough to be successful at St Catz.   

What are your research interests and why have you chosen those particular areas?

I work in private law, specialising in the conflict of laws. This was a subject that I studied on the BCL, and I have been captivated ever since. The study of relations between legal systems, it demands a little bit of everything: a strong grasp of private law fundamentals (for which Roman law comes in very useful) with a sprinking of almost every other field of legal research thrown in (to name but a few: comparative law, European Union law, constitutional law, civil procedure and legal history).

What are you working on at the moment?

A few things. My main project in the coming year will be working on my four chapters for the new (16th) edition of Dicey, Morris & Collins, The Conflict of Laws.

What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

In the morning, going for a run. In the afternoon, watching sport (of preference, Liverpool FC or road cycling). In the evening, a Thai meal and a glass of white wine with my wife.

Who inspires you or has inspired you in the past?

Mr and Mrs Witton (my history teachers at school), Adrian Briggs and Derrick Wyatt, Peter Birks, Rae Lindsay (my litigation supervisor and mentor at Clifford Chance) and Roger Ainsworth (Master at St Catz at the time of my appointment). Each of them was, or is, exceptional in their chosen field, and their dedication has guided and inspired me in my own teaching and research.

What is your favourite place to visit in the world?

Sydney (more specifically, the back deck of the Manly Ferry with a flat white as the sun rises or a beer as it sets).