Rebecca Williams is a Professor of Public Law and Criminal Law, in association with Pembroke College. Rebecca was previously a fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge, having done her PhD at Birmingham. Before that she was both an undergraduate and a BCL student at Worcester College, Oxford. Rebecca's principal teaching interests are criminal law and public law, and her research interests include: 
  • Criminal Law (including EU criminal law)
  • Public Law (including EU and US public law and comparative approaches)
  • Law and technology  
  • The interrelationship between public law and unjust enrichment

Her work includes examining optimum methods of decision-making and the use of criminal law as a form of regulation. Increasingly her work also focuses on the relationship of law and technology and the ways in which the law will need to develop in order to keep pace with technological developments.  
Her work has been cited in the European Court of Justice, the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales, and the High Court of Australia.


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  • R Williams, 'Overpaid Taxes: A Hybrid Public and Private Approach' in Birke Haecker, Charles Mitchell, Steven Elliott (ed), Restitution of Overpaid Tax (2013)
    Continues the argument developed in 'Unjust Enrichment and Public law' in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court in FII. Argues that in Deutsche Morgan Grenfell the House of Lords took a wrong turning on the law of unjust enrichment in a public law context, a decision which has led to unnecessary and avoidable litigation, as evidenced by FII. Suggests that such litigation could in future be avoided by reversing the Deutsche Morgan Grenfell decision and adopting the hybrid public and private approach to cases of unjust enrichment involving public bodies.
    ISBN: 9781849461733
  • R Williams, 'Voluntary intoxication – A lost cause?' (2013) Law Quarterly Review 264
    The article argues that there are two key problems with the current law concerning voluntary intoxication. First, the rules applicable so-called crimes of basic intent, contrary to some of the more recent case law, can in fact only apply coherently to reckless result crimes. Second, given the differences between the threshold for liability for sober defendants and the threshold for liability for voluntarily intoxicated defendants, the current rules amount in cases of basic intent to criminalisation of the intoxication itself. If this is to be the case, the article argues that the law should take this approach openly, so that in any case where the defendant lacks mens rea as a result of voluntary intoxication (s)he should be convicted instead of a new statutory offence of 'committing the actus reus of offence X while intoxicated', which could also apply coherently to all offences.
  • R Williams, 'Cartels in the Criminal Law Landscape' in Caron Beaton-Wells & Ariel Ezrachi (ed), Criminalising Cartels (2011)
    The chapter focuses on cartel criminalisation from the criminal law perspective, charting how the process of criminaliation fits within the current landscape of criminal law, particularly in England and Wales. It examines the compromises necessary if the criminal law is to be used to regulate cartel behaviour without damage to that project or indeed to the criminal law more widely.
  • R Williams, 'Lady & Kid and others v Skatteministeriet and Ministre du Budget, des Comptes publics et de la Fonction publique v Accor SA: Unjust Enrichment and the European Court of Justice, a loss of national competence and principle?' [2011] British Tax Review 631 [Case Note]
    Casenote arguing that in two recent decisions, Lady & Kid and Accor, the ECJ has extended its involvement in national causes of action in unjust enrichment still further. But by denying all defences to such claims other than a very literal version of the passing on defence, without hearing proper principled argument on the range of defences which might be available, the ECJ has replaced a loss of competence at national level but not the corresponding loss of principled reasoning. The casenote argues that these decisions thus provide further evidence of the problematic nature of the ECJ's so-called 'remedies jurisprudence'.
  • R Williams, Unjust Enrichment and Public Law: A comparative study of England, France and the EU (Hart Publishing 2010)
    Since the decisions in R v IRC ex p Woolwich Equitable Building Society in 1990 and Hazell v Hammersmith and Fulham LBC in 1991, the courts have had, in a variety of contexts, to grapple with the relationship between unjust enrichment, public law and the law of the European Community. 20 years later, the decision of the European Court of Justice in Metallgesellschaft and Hoecsht v IRC in 2001 has led to a further explosion of such cases, many of which are still making their way through the courts. The central aim of this book is to examine such claims in France, England and the EC. The author argues that so far these cases have been viewed from either a public or private law perspective, whereas in fact both branches of the law are relevant, and the courts ought not to lose sight of the public law issues when a claim is brought under the private law of unjust enrichment. Support for this position is drawn from an examination of French law, which demonstrates that neither adoption of the ‘without cause’ approach to unjust enrichment, nor the longer-standing existence of a separate concept of public law removes the necessity for such a hybrid public and private understanding of the cases. Finally, in order to complete the picture the book examines cases where the limit on the public body’s powers derives, not from domestic public law, but from the law of the EC. Thus a further aspect of the book is that it analyses more specifically what is often referred to as the ECJ’s ‘remedies’ jurisprudence in order to investigate the division of labour between the European courts and the domestic courts in defining such claims.
    ISBN: 1841134147 / 9781841
  • R Williams and N Padfield, 'Le Cas Anglais: L’absence d'interactions? ' in Geneviève Giudicelli-Delage, Stefano Manacorda (ed), Cour de Justice et Justice Pénale en Europe (2010)
  • R Williams and R Shiers, 'FII GLO (Chancery) and F J Chalke; tax and restitution developing hand-in-hand' [2009] British Tax Review 365 [Case Note]
    The authors examine the recent domestic decisions in the FII Group Litigation Order and F J Chalke, and demonstrate the significance of these taxation cases for the future development of the law of unjust enrichment. They consider in particular the impact of European case law in this area.
  • R Williams, 'Deception, Mistake and Vitiation of the Victim\\\'s Consent' (2008) 124(Jan) Law Quarterly Review 132
    ISBN: 0023-933X
  • R Williams, 'When is an Error not an Error? Reform of Jurisdictional Review of Error of Law and Fact' [2007] 2007(Winter) Public Law 793
    ISBN: 0033-3565
  • R Williams, 'The Beginnings of a Public Law of Unjust Enrichment?' (2005) 16(1) King's College Law Journal 194
    ISBN: 0961-5768
  • R Williams and Professor Christopher F. Forsyth, 'Closing Chapter in the Immigrant Children Saga: Substantive Legitimate Expectations and Administrative Justice in Hong Kong' (2002) 10 Asia Pacific Law Review 29
    Article discussing the closing stages of a series of judgments given by the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong concerning the interpretation of Article 24 of the Basic Law on the right of residence in Hong Kong. The piece argues that the Hong Kong executive, Legal Aid Board and Court system all found the technique of informal communication useful in managing claims for residence, but that the usefulness of this technique on future occasions is dependent on full protection being given to the expectations it creates so that trust in the administration can be maintained. The article also discusses some of the general background theory and doctrine concerning legitimate expectations in administrative law more generally and argues that although the courts are often concerned with the numbers of people claiming legitimate expectations, in fact there may be more subtle issues to consider such as whether the class of persons is finite and identifiable.
    ISBN: 1019-2557
  • R Williams, 'Unjust Enrichment in EU Law' (2000) Bar European Group Bar European Group Seminar
    King's College London Strand Campus Members of the Bar European Group. I was invited to speak alongside Laurence Rabinowitz QC by Tom de la Mare of Blackstone Chambers and the event was chaired by Lord Justice Etherton.

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Research Interests

  • Criminal Law (including EU criminal law)
  • Public Law (including EU and US public law and comparative approaches)
  • Law and technology
  • The relationship between law and technology
  • The interrelationship between public law and unjust enrichment

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Administrative Law, Criminal Law (Mods)

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