Benjamin Spagnolo is a graduate of the Universities of Western Australia and Oxford, a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and a former Associate to the Chief Justice of Australia. He was elected to the Penningtons Studentship in Law at Christ Church in 2012, having previously taught at the University of Western Australia and at a dozen colleges in Oxford, including as a lecturer at Magdalen, St John's and University Colleges and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Faculty of Law. Benjamin is a former Sir Robert Menzies Scholar in Law, a former Clarendon Scholar and a recipient of a University of Oxford Teaching Award. He served as Mooting Coordinator for the Faculty from 2008 to 2010 and as Sub-Dean at Magdalen College in 2011-2012.

Position Description

Penningtons Student (Fellow) and Tutor in Law


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  • BJ Spagnolo, The Continuity of Legal Systems in Theory and Practice (Hart Publishing 2015)
    The Continuity of Legal Systems in Theory and Practice examines a persistent and fascinating question about the continuity of legal systems: when is a legal system existing at one time the same legal system that exists at another time? The book’s distinctive approach to this question is to combine abstract critical analysis of two of the most developed theories of legal systems, those of Hans Kelsen and Joseph Raz, with an evaluation of their capacity, in practice, to explain the facts, attitudes and normative standards for which they purport to account. That evaluation is undertaken by reference to Australian constitutional law and history, whose diverse and complex phenomena make it particularly apt for evaluating the theories’ explanatory power. In testing whether the depiction of Australian law presented by each theory achieves an adequate ‘fit’ with historical facts, the book also contributes to the understanding of Australian law and legal systems between 1788 and 2001. By collating the relevant Australian materials systematically for the first time, it presents the case for reconceptualising the role of Imperial laws and institutions during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and clarifies the interrelationship between Colonial, State, Commonwealth and Imperial legal systems both before and after Federation.
    ISBN: 9781849468831
  • BJ Spagnolo, 'H. Yusuf, Colonial and Post-Colonial Constitutionalism in the Commonwealth: Peace, Order and Good Government (Routledge 2014)' (2014) 14 OUCLJ 141–151 [Review]


Research Interests

Public law, Roman law and jurisprudence

Options taught

Administrative Law, Roman Law (Delict - FHS), A Roman Introduction to Private Law, Constitutional Law (Mods)

Research projects