Centre for Commercial Law

Centre for Commercial Law

Robert Sullivan   ROBERT SULLIVAN
LL.B (WALES); LL.M (London).
Emeritus Professor of Law

Previously - Barber Professor of Jurisprudence, Birmingham, 20006/7;
Professor of Law, Durham, 1997-2006.
Visiting Professor, University of Iowa, 1985-1986.
Chair, LL.B Board of Examiners.

contact details:
Email: g.sullivan@ucl.ac.uk

Bob Sullivan joined the Faculty of Laws in 2007, having previously held chairs in the universities of Birmingham and Durham. He is principally known for his work in criminal law and criminal law theory but he is also research active in the areas of corporate legal and social responsibility and criminal law/civil law responses to commercial fraud and corruption. He has frequently been consulted by the Law Commission of England and Wales on a wide range of matters relating to the criminal law and by the Serious Fraud Office, the Home Office, and the International Chamber of Commerce on issues relating to fraud, corruption and corporate criminal liability. His work is often cited in appellate courts here and overseas. He has lectured and given seminars at many conferences abroad and will deliver papers on legal responses to terrorist emergencies in Jerusalem 2008 and the conduct element in homicide, Singapore 2009.

In recent years Bob Sullivan’s major publications have been in the domain of criminal law theory. He has recently published (with Andrew Simester) Criminal Law: Theory and Doctrine (3rd edn, Hart Publishing 2007), a critically acclaimed work which integrates theory and doctrine across the domain of the substantive criminal law. Other publications in criminal law theory include papers on the possibility of doctrinal coherence in the criminal law, the mental states of knowledge and belief as terms of criminal culpability, the human rights implications of strict liability, the nature and rationale of property offences and the culpability of accomplices. More doctrinally based articles include critiques of Law Commission proposals relating to corporate manslaughter, complicity, and inchoate offences of encouraging and assisting crime.

His principal work in progress is a monograph for Hart Publishing, Doing and Sharing Wrongs where the argument will be made that the doctrine of complicity can be dispensed with, bringing doctrinal gains in elegance and economy, without loss of any of the expressive, retributive and deterrent resources of the criminal law.

Recent Publications
From 2004

Criminal Law: Theory and Doctrine, 3rd ed 2007 (with A P Simester) This is a substantially revised edition with new chapters on criminalisation, criminal damage and fraud

Chapters in Books

  • 2005
    • ‘The Nature and Rationale of Property Offences’ (with A. P. Simester) in Duff and Green, eds, Criminal Law: Doctrines of the Special Part (OUP, 2004) at 169 – 195.
  • 2005
    • ‘Strict Liability for Criminal Offences in England and Wales following Incorporation into English Law of the European Convention for Human Rights’ in von Hirsch and Simester, eds, Appraising Strict Liability (OUP 2004) at 195-218.
  • 2003
    • ‘Private Commercial Bribery: The Legal Response in England and Wales’ in Heine, Huber and Rose, Private Commercial Bribery, (2003 iuscrim: Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law) at 55-86
    • ‘La Riposta Legislativa all Corruzione in Inghliterra’ in Acquaroli and Foffani, eds, La Corruzione Tra Privati (2003, Guiffre Editore, Milana), 157-176 (translated by Chiani Bardelli)
  • 2002
    • ‘The Legal Response to Corruption in England and Wales’ in Huber, ed, Combating Corruption in the European Union (Academy of European Law, Trier) at 81-88
  • 2001
    • ‘Knowledge, Belief and Culpability’ in Shute and Simester, eds, Criminal Law Theory: Doctrines of the General Part (OUP) at 207-226


  • 2008
    • ’Participating in Crime’: Law Com No.305; Joint Criminal Ventures
      Criminal Law Review, 19 - 31
  • 2007
    • ‘First Degree Murder and Complicity- Parity of Culpability between Principal and Accomplice’ 1 Journal of Criminal Law and Philosophy,271-288.
  • 2006
    • ‘Complicity for First Degree Murder and Complicity in an Unlawful Killing’
      Criminal Law Review 502-513
  • 2003
    • ‘Fraud – The Latest Law Commission Proposals’
      Journal of Criminal Law 139-148
  • 2002
    • ‘Is Criminal Law Possible?’
      22 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 747-758
  • 2001
    • ‘Corporate Killing – Some Government Proposals’
      Criminal Law Review 31-39

Current Teaching
Criminal Law Doctrine

PhD Supervision
Professor Sullivan has extensive experience of graduate supervision, and welcomes approaches from prospective students for supervision within any area of his competence

page updated on 17 October, 2011