D.Phil. (Oxon) 1992, LL.B. (Toronto) 1988, B.Sc. (Western Ontario) 1985, Barrister (Lincoln's Inn)

  • Kwa Geok Choo Professor of Property Law
  • Executive Committee Member, Centre for Legal Theory
Email Address:
Office Tel: (65) 6601-3460 
Office Fax: (65) 6779-0979 
Office Address

Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore
Eu Tong Sen Building
469G Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 259776
Research Interests

Law of Trusts
Law and Philosophy of Property
Philosophical Foundations of the Common Law
General Jurisprudence
Philosophy of Law

Subjects Taught


Brief Biodata

James Penner took an honours B.Sc in Genetics at the University of Western Ontario in 1985, an LL.B at the University of Toronto in 1988 and completed his D.Phil at University College, Oxford in 1992. His thesis formed the basis of The Idea of Property in Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997) which won the 1997 Society of Public Teachers of Law First Prize for Outstanding Scholarship by a Younger Scholar (now renamed the 'SLS Peter Birks Prize').

Since 1992 he has taught law at Brunel University, the London School of Economics, King's College London, and most recently from 2008 until 2013 as Professor of Property Law at the Faculty of Laws, University College London, serving from 2011 to 2013 as Head of Department. He has established himself as one of the world's leading experts in the philosophy of property and the law of trusts, and writes more widely in the areas of private law and the philosophy of law. He has been a visiting professor in China, Canada, Belgium, and Australia.

Representative Publications

1. 'Promises, Agreements, and Contracts' in Gregory Klass, George Letsas & Prince Saprai, The Philosophical Foundations of Contract Law (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming 2014)

2. 'Is Loyalty a Virtue, and Even If It Is, Does it Really Help Explain Fiduciary Liability?' in Andrew Gold and Paul Miller (eds) The Philosophical Foundations of Fiduciary Law (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming 2014)

3. 'On the Very Idea of Transmissible Rights' in James Penner and Henry Smith (eds)The Philosophical Foundations of Property Law (Oxford: OUP, forthcoming 2013)

4. 'The difficult doctrinal basis for the fiduciary's proprietary liability to account for bribes' (2012) 18 Trusts and Trustees 1000-07

5. 'An Untheory of the Law of Trusts, or Some Notes Towards Understanding the Structure of Trusts Law Doctrine', (2010) 63 Current Legal Problems 653-675

6. 'The State Duty to Support the Poor in Kant's Doctrine of Right' (2010) 12 British Journal of Politics and International Relations 88-110

Publication List