UCL Faculty of Laws

Prof Helen Xanthaki

Prof Helen Xanthaki

Professor (Teaching)

Faculty of Laws


Joined UCL
1st Jan 2016

Research summary

Helen views legislation as a channel of communication from the state to the users. Good legislation clearly communicates to lay people, learned non lawyers, and lawyers/judges what the state wants of them and why, thus inciting their willing participation in government policy. This is effective legislation, ie good legislation. 

Helen's effectiveness paradigm is expressed in her monograph Drafting Legislation: Art and Technology of Rules and Regulation, the main reference book in legislative studies (reviewed by Public Law, Legal Studies, The Loophole, Statute Law Review, Theory and Practice of Legislation, European Journal of Law Reform, Rassegna Parlamentare, Zeitschift fur Gesetzgeburg, LesGez: Legislation and Evaluation, European Journal of Risk Regulation; and translated in Chinese by China Press in 2022). The Loophole, the publication of the Commonwealth Association for Legislative Counsel, dedicated one whole issue in the review of her monograph and greeted it as the most important publication of the decade in drafting. 

Helen is the editor of Thornton's Legislative Drafting (5th and 6th eds), the leading manual for professional drafters worldwide. Her work was endorsed by Grant Thornton.

Helen, with Professor Ulrich Karpen, edited the two volume Hart/Nomos opus Legislation in Europe: A Country by Country Handbook for Scholars and Practitioners, and Legislation in Europe: A Handbook for Scholars and Practitioners.  

Helen is a popular public speaker. Recently she has lectured on legislation for sustainability and resilience, reform of EU legislation for sustainable integration, effectiveness of legislation, the comprehensibility of EU legislation, confidence in EU legislation, gender inclusivity v gender neutrality: a drafting perspective, and emergency legislation in the COVID19 times.

Helen's expertise is recognised internationally. She is a Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS; Visiting Professor at QMUL and Xianmen University China; Associate of the Centre for European Constitutional Law (Athens); Associate of the Centre for Research in Language and Law, Napoli; Member of the Advisory Board of  Kimble Centre for Legal Drafting (Colley Law School, USA), the Centre for Legislation, LeTrobe (Austr), and the Legal Issues Centre at Otago (NZ); Member of the Editorial Board of EJLR, TPLeg, and NovaLogos; and President of the International Association for Legislation.

Teaching summary

Legislative Drafting; EU; Public; Comparative Law and Methods

Pedagogical approach: Cross-fertilisation between research and education by enhancing the curriculum with latest research outputs, and informing research via research questions arising in teaching and lecturing (connected curriculum)

Leadership in education -selected indicators: Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy; Senior Fellow, Mentor, and Assessor, UCL Arena; Fellow, Centre for Distance Education; External Examiner and Assessor to Greek Universities; PGT (Brunel); Universities of Manchester, Westminster, Malta; King’s Inns Dublin


University of London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma of Law |
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), ATQ04 - Recognised by the HEA as a Senior Fellow | 2017
University of Durham
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2000
University of Durham
Other higher degree, Master of Laws | 1994
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Ptychion | 1990


Helen came to UCL having served for 18 years at the IALS as the Director of the Sir William Dale Centre for Legislative Studies. She was the first UK Professor in Law and Legislative Drafting. Helen is one of the top experts in legislation, legislative drafting, legislative quality in the UK, the Commonwealth and the UK. She is the author of the 5th and now 6th edition of Thornton's Legislative Drafting, the leading manual for drafting practitioners, and of Drafting Legislation: Art and Technology of Rules and Regulation, the leading academic reference book in legislative drafting, now also translated in Chinese. She is a consultant to governments, international and regional organisations both as a trainer and a drafter. She is now focusing on EU legislative quality and transposition. She is President of the International Association for Legislation, a Senior Associate Research Fellow at the IALS, and a Visiting Professor at QMUL and Xianmen University China.