Helen Scott

Professor of Private Law

Other affiliations

Faculty of Law


Helen Scott is Professor of Private Law in the Oxford Law Faculty and Tutorial Fellow in Law at Lady Margaret Hall. Her research interests fall within the law of obligations (particularly tort and unjust enrichment) and civilian legal history (particularly Roman law). She is the author of Unjust Enrichment in South African Law: Rethinking Enrichment by Transfer (Hart, 2013), reviewed by Hector MacQueen in the South African Law Journal (here), and recently edited Private Law in a Changing World, a collection of essays celebrating the career of Danie Visser. She is currently working on projects concerning the role of foreseeability in the law of tort (her recent work on the history of foreseeability can be found here), remedies arising from theft of incorporeal money, and the significance of careless mistake in unjust enrichment.

She did a BA degree majoring in law and Latin at the University of Cape Town in 1993-1995, followed by Latin Honours (concurrently with Greek I) in 1996 and a postgraduate LLB (concurrently with Greek II and III) in 1997-1998. She then completed BCL (2000), MPhil (2001) and DPhil (2005) degrees at Oxford. Before taking up her current position she was a professor in the Department of Private Law at the University of Cape Town, where she taught courses on comparative legal history, delict, unjustified enrichment and Roman law. Between 2005 and 2009 she was a tutorial fellow in law at St Catherine's College Oxford, and before that a fixed-term fellow at Trinity College. Between 2008 and 2014 she was also a visiting professor at the Université Panthéon-Assas (Paris II), where she taught a course in the common law of tort. At Oxford she teaches Roman law, tort, and the restitution of unjust enrichment.

Faculty Position

Helen was the Vice Dean (Personnel) from 2020-2022, and was responsible for:

  • Academic staffing issues: managing miscellaneous academic staffing issues as they arise, assisting the Dean when asked, and deputising for the Dean when necessary.
  • Initial Period of Office: overseeing the initial period of office of new post holders, including induction and meeting with new post holders and providing advice, and acting as Advisor to new lecturers.
  • Recognition and Reward: overseeing the Recognition and Reward scheme (for staff on grades 1-10)
  • Code of Practice for Contract Research Staff: overseeing the implementation of the Code of Practice for Contract Research Staff (including the probationary period).

Jointly with Robert Burrell (Vice Dean - Teaching and Recruitment):

  • Review the annual teaching return (with the Dean) and advise on matters related to stint. 
  • Represent the Faculty on committees and ad hoc working parties in and beyond the Division.
  • Co-chair the Personnel Committee