Mikolaj Barczentewicz


Oxford Law Faculty

Other affiliations


Mikołaj Barczentewicz is a Research Associate of the Law Faculty's Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government. He is also a Lecturer in Public Law and Legal Theory as well as the Research Director of the Surrey Law and Technology Hub at the University of Surrey School of Law. Previously, he taught public law, jurisprudence, EU law, and Roman law for Oxford law students and worked as a Lecturer at Jesus College, Oxford.

Mikołaj completed his DPhil in Law at the University of Oxford. He holds a Polish law degree from the University of Warsaw, as well as MJur (Distinction) and MPhil in Law (Distinction) degrees from the University of Oxford.

He specialises in law & technology, public law (constitutional and administrative law), and in legal theory (philosophy of law). You can read more about his research on his website barczentewicz.com.

Mikołaj was awarded a scholarship for 2015/16 and 2016/17 by the University's Programme for the Foundations of Law and Constitutional Government. Previously, he was supported by the Oxford Centre for Ethics and Philosophy of Law.

Before coming to Oxford, Mikołaj worked as a lawyer specialising in European Union law (competition law and pharmaceutical regulation) and Polish public law. He was also a plaintiff pro se in a high-profile cause litigation against the President of Poland aimed at broadening the scope of freedom of information in Poland.

Between 2013 and 2017 Mikołaj was a co-convenor of the Oxford Jurisprudence Discussion Group.


Recent additions

Chapter (2)

M Barczentewicz, 'I Am Not Your (Founding) Father' in Richard Albert, Nishchal Basnyat, Menaka Guruswamy (ed), Founding Moments in Constitutionalism (Hart Publishing 2019)

Journal Article (3)

Report (1)

Internet Publication (1)

Other (1)

M Barczentewicz, 'Who Made the United States Constitution?' (2015)
This paper answers the question who made the United States Constitution from the perspective of general jurisprudence aided by historical evidence. On my view, to make a constitution qua law one must satisfy two conditions: (1) act intending to make a constitution while viewing oneself as having authority to do so and (2) be de facto authoritative in making a constitution. HLA Hart’s concepts of secondary rules of recognition and of change figure prominently in my account. Beginning with a sketch of the historical process of the making of the Constitution, I then identify the agents involved in it. I observe that on any plausible account the making was a cooperative process involving groups of people and thus I consider the issue of group agency, arguing that groups can act and have intentions when certain conditions are satisfied. Several candidates for the Constitution’s maker are evaluated in this paper: “We the People”, “the Drafters”, “the Ratifiers”, “the Great Men”, the states and the peoples of the states. The historical material available does not allow for a decisive answer to the question who was the maker. However, I conclude that based on the available evidence it is most compelling to view the thirteen state groups of the Ratifiers as the makers of the Constitution, because they viewed themselves as acting to establish the Constitution with authority delegated by the people of their states and because their act of ratification was, in fact, recognized as establishing the Constitution as law.

Case Note (1)

M Barczentewicz, '‘Constitutional Statutes’ Still Alive' (2014) 130 Law Quarterly Review 557 [Case Note]
In R. (Buckinghamshire CC) v Secretary of State for Transport [2014] UKSC 3; [2014] 1 W.L.R. 324 (HS2) the Supreme Court has provided a good reason to think that the idea of a hierarchy of statutes within the legal system of the United Kingdom is still alive, despite the fact that some commentators have already heralded its early demise.

Research programmes

Research Interests

Law & technology, public law (constitutional and administrative law), legal theory (philosophy of law).

Research projects