Sandy Steel

Professor of Law

Faculty officer role(s):

Director of Examinations


Sandy Steel is Professor of Law and Philosophy of Law in the Faculty of Law at Oxford, Lee Shau Kee's Sir Man Kam Lo Fellow in Law at Wadham College, and Global Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School (London).

Over the last ten years, he has held visiting appointments at University of Hong Kong, NYU, the National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, the University of Münster, and Tel Aviv University.  

His main interest is in philosophical and doctrinal questions about foundational issues in private law across common law and civilian jurisdictions, with recent papers on the moral relationship between remedies and self-defence, omissions, causation, the grounds of compensatory duties, the role of fault, and the role of deterrence arguments in private law. Alongside this, he maintains an interest in general jurisprudence and has co-authored (with Nick McBride) a critical guide to the subject: Great Debates in Jurisprudence (Palgrave, 2014, 2nd edn 2018). 

In 2016, he was awarded the Modern Law Review's Wedderburn Prize for his article 'Justifying Exceptions to Proof of Causation in Tort Law'. His first monograph was Proof of Causation in Tort Law (CUP, 2015).

His work has been cited by the UK Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the High Court of Australia. 

He is working on a book about the normative foundations of remedial law. 

Some draft papers are available here: and

Other draft papers (on which I'd be grateful for any comments - please email me for the draft):

1. Liability for Permissible Harm

2. The Difference that Making a Difference Makes: Liability and Necessity

3. Distributive Justice and Liability



S Steel, Proof of Causation in Tort Law (Cambridge University Press, 2015; paperback edition, 2017), 429pp 

NJ McBride and S Steel, Great Debates in Jurisprudence (Palgrave, 2014), 268pp; 2nd edn (2018).

N Jansen, translated from German by S Steel, The Structure of Tort Law (Oxford University Press, 2021)

S Steel, Omissions in Tort Law (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2024)

H Psarras and S Steel (eds) Private Law and Practical Reason: Essays on John Gardner's Philosophy of Private Law (Oxford University Press, 2023).

Selected journal articles:

S. Steel, 'Public authority liability for failure to prevent harm' (2024) Journal of Tort Law (forthcoming)

S. Steel, “Justifying civil recourse for wrongs” (2023) 27 Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies 1

S. Steel, “Damages without loss” (2023) 139 Law Quarterly Review 219 

T. Khaitan and S. Steel, “Theorising areas of law” (2022) 28 Legal Theory 325 (open access)

T. Khaitan and S. Steel, “Areas of law: three questions in special jurisprudence” (2022) 43 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 76 (open access)

S. Steel, “On the moral necessity of tort law: the fairness argument” (2021) 41 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 192 

S. Steel, “Compensation and continuity” (2020) 26 Legal Theory 250

S. Steel, “Remedies, analysed” (2020) 41 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 539 

S. Steel and R. Stevens, “The secondary legal duty to pay damages” (2020) 136 Law Quarterly Review 283.

S. Steel, “Rationalising omissions liability in negligence” (2019) 135 Law Quarterly Review 484 - 507

S. Steel, “The locality principle in private nuisance” (2017) 76 Cambridge Law Journal 145 - 167

S. Steel, “Saving private wrongs” (2016) 14 Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies 1 – 21 (with a response by Arthur Ripstein in the same issue). 

S. Tofaris and S. Steel, “Negligence liability for omissions and the police” (2016) 75 Cambridge Law Journal 128 – 157 
S. Steel, “Justifying exceptions to proof of causation” (2015) 78 Modern Law Review 729 – 758 

S. Steel, “Private law and justice” (2013) 33 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 607 - 628. 

N.J. McBride and S. Steel, “Suing for the loss of the right to sue” (2012) 28 Professional Negligence 27 – 39

S. Steel, “Causation in English tort law: still wrong after all these years” (2012) 31 University of Queensland Law Journal 243 - 264

S. Steel, “Exceptional doctrines of natural causation: Sienkiewicz v Greif” (2011) 2 Journal of European Tort Law 294 - 311

S. Steel and D.J. Ibbetson, “More grief on uncertain causation in tort” (2011) 70 Cambridge Law Journal 451 – 468 

Book chapters:

A. Georgiou and S. Steel, "Remedies and the public interest" in A Robertson and J Neyers (eds.) Private Law and the State (Bloomsbury, 2024, forthcoming)

S. Steel, “Liability beyond necessity” in K Burns et al (eds), Torts on Three Continents: Essays in Honour of Jane Stapleton (forthcoming, OUP 2024)

S. Steel, “Liability and Distributive Justice” in N Stavropoulos (ed), Law’s Empire at 35 (forthcoming)

S. Steel, “Legal Causation and AI” in E Lim and P Morgan (eds) Cambridge handbook on artificial intelligence and private law (CUP, 2024)

S. Steel, “Defensive and remedial liability” J Oberdiek and P Miller (eds), Oxford Studies in Private Law Theory: Vol II (OUP, 2023)

S. Steel, “Deterrence in private law” in H Psarras and S Steel (eds) Private law and practical reason (OUP, 2023)

S. Steel, “Justifying state remedial duties” in S Besson (ed) Theorising International State Responsibility Law (CUP, 2022)

S. Steel, “Culpability and compensatory liability” in (ed) J. Goudkamp, M. Lunney, Taking Law Seriously (Hart Publishing, 2021)

S. Steel, “Defences to liability in French tort and contract law” in J.S. Borghetti and S. Whittaker (eds), French civil liability in comparative perspective (Hart, 2019) approx. 10,000 words)  

S. Steel, “Cause and courts”, in P. Daly (ed), Apex courts in the common law (University of Toronto Press, 2019) 342 - 365

T. Khaitan and S. Steel, “Wrongs, group disadvantage, and the legitimacy of indirect discrimination” in H Collins and T Khaitan (eds), The foundations of indirect discrimination law (Hart, 2018) 197 – 221

M. Dyson and S. Steel, “Risk in English Private Law” in M. Dyson (ed) Regulating risk (Intersentia, 2018)

Chapters on “Causation”, “Capacity”, “Malicious Prosecution” and “Joint and Several Liability” in K Oliphant (ed), Butterworths common law series: tort (2014)

S. Steel, “Causation in tort and crime: unity or divergence?” in M Dyson (ed), Unravelling tort and crime (CUP, 2014) 239 - 274

S. Steel, “Rationalising loss of a chance in tort” in S Pitel, J Neyers, E Chamberlain (eds), Challenging orthodoxy in tort law (Hart, 2013)

Case notes:

S. Steel, “Material contribution, again” (2022) 138 LQR 545

S. Steel, “The gist of private nuisance” (2019) 135 LQR 192

J. Stapleton and S. Steel, “Causes and contributions” (2016) 132 LQR 363

S. Steel, “On when Fairchild applies” (2015) 131 LQR 363 

S. Steel, “Defining causal counterfactuals in negligence” (2014) 130 LQR 564

N.J. McBride and S. Steel, “The trigger litigation” (2012) 28 Professional Negligence 285

S. Steel, “False imprisonment and the fetch of hypothetical warrant” (2011) 127 LQR 527

S. Steel, “Uncertainty over causal uncertainty” (2010) 73 MLR 646