Faculty Feature

Assistant Professor Swati Jhaveri
Nurturing the Future

Assistant Professor Swati Jhaveri joined NUS Law in August 2012, and has won the University-level Annual Teaching Excellence Award for three consecutive years. She teaches Constitutional & Administrative Law and the Law of Torts, and her areas of research include public law, with a focus on administrative law. She has published in law journals such as International Journal of Constitutional Law (ICON), Public Law, Tort Law Review and Singapore Journal of Legal Studies. Swati previously taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Faculty of Law. While at CUHK, she was awarded the Vice Chancellor's Exemplary Teaching Award. She was also awarded a competitive research grant by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong to investigate the post-1997 impact of judicial review on legislative process and content.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence (First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Civil Law (Distinction) from the University of Oxford. She previously practised law at Allen & Overy, specialising in international commercial arbitration. She is a Solicitor of the Hong Kong SAR and England & Wales and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Swati tells us more about her academic and teaching experience.


What have been some of the highlights of your career?

IFirst, it’s the experience in the classroom. Engaging with students in Hong Kong and Singapore has been an incredible eye-opener. It has forced me to re-learn my law in a completely different way. Students can see things differently, with a fresh eye. This has often made me reconsider my own views. I am indebted to them for this.
Secondly, engaging with my own former teachers but this time as a fellow member of the scholarly community is a great experience, especially when speaking together at conferences. They have been wonderfully encouraging mentors.
Thirdly, it is a privilege when we, as members of the university, can see ideas implemented in the real world. Two such instances stand out for me. The first was the opportunity to speak to the Hong Kong Legislative Council on access to justice by unrepresented applicants in judicial review cases in the context of a civil justice reform exercise. The other was being a part of the recent constitutional amendment process in Singapore, in particular appearing before the Constitutional Commission to present reform proposals with colleagues from NUS Law.


What made you decide to specialise in Constitutional and Administrative Law?

Working in these areas is humbling; it constantly reminds you that law is just one of the forces at play in a jurisdiction. Both constitutional and administrative law operate within a broader framework – other forces are political, civic, social, and regional. So working in these areas gives me the chance to relativise the role of law within this broader framework and, as a result, to expose myself to how other disciplines see the world. This has been a wonderful learning experience.


What do you think is the most pressing issue currently in this area of law?

There are always new questions to consider. Some of the questions I am considering now include the need for more comparison in the field of administrative law; the boundaries of substantive review of executive decisions by the courts; and the role of the executive (as opposed to courts and parliament) in generating constitutional norms and meaning. The list goes on!


You have won the Annual Teaching Awards for three consecutive years; can you tell us what drives you?

Hands down, the students. The students I have had the pleasure of teaching are driven, hardworking and always have something interesting to say during class discussions. This makes teaching challenging, but exciting. I am also lucky to be teaching in two areas of law (Torts and Public Law), where the law is in a constant state of flux. The courts have handed down a significant number of judgments in both areas of law that have changed the course of the law by re-opening previously settled debates. So, every year there is new material to go through with the students that challenge previous assumptions and positions.


What are the three qualities a student should have for a successful law career?

This is not specific to law graduates, but applicable to whatever field you decide to go into. At the risk of stating the obvious, working hard is a crucial start. Evolving as the industry you are in changes is also important. Also, remember that knowing your job is not enough; knowing how to use what you know is what counts. Finally, it will help you if you can find ‘purpose’ in what you do: it always brings a sense of fulfilment to see that what you are doing has some meaning beyond the job itself.