Photo of Professor James Devenney

Professor James Devenney

LL.B (Hons.) Ph.D PG Cert. LTHE FHEA

Professor of Commercial Law


01392 723370

Amory 222

Professor James Devenney joined Exeter Law School in October 2011 from Durham University, where he was Deputy Head of Durham Law School and Director of the Durham University Institute of Commercial and Corporate Law.  He previously held posts at Cardiff Law School and the Bristol Law School, and in recent years he has spent time at Adelaide Law School and the ESRC Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability and Society at Cardiff University. 

He is currently:

  • Visiting Professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway;
  • Member of a working group on the Secured Transactions Law Reform Project (under the chairmanship of Lord Saville and the directorship of Professor Sir Roy Goode QC);
  • Member of a three year research project on the European Common Frame of Reference with the Institute of European and Comparative Law at the University of Oxford and Humboldt Universität, Germany (funded by the AHRC and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft);
  • Member of a Common Core of European Law (Trento) Project on Contractual Remedies. 

His work has been cited by the High Court of Singapore (see Chwee Kin Keong v. [2004] SGHC 71), the High Court of England and Wales (see Parabola Investments Ltd v. Browallia Cal Ltd [2009] EWHC 901 (Comm) at [130]) and the English Law Commission (see Law Commission of England and Wales: Ninth Programme of Reform (Law Com No 293), para 4.18).  He has provided assistance to the Law Commission on Consumer Law, misrepresentation and unfair commercial practices; and more recently he was invited to discuss the proposal for the codification of Australian Contract Law with the Australian Attorney-General’s Department.

Over the years James has taught a wide variety of Commercial, Corporate and Property Law modules; and in 2011 he was delighted to be shortlisted for the prestigious Oxford University Press Law Teacher of the Year award.

In his free time, James enjoys walking his dogs and supporting Bristol RFC (his hometown club).


Research group links

Research interests

Professor James Devenney's research interests are located in the broad fields of Commercial Law, Contract Law, Consumer Law and the Europeanisation of Private Law, and he has made prominent contributions to a number of areas of interest within those fields. 

First, he has made a number of important contributions to key debates on theoretical frameworks for the assessment of contractual damages.  For example, he has been involved in projects which (a) proposed a new and innovative theoretical framework for the assessment of non-pecuniary losses in Contract Law, and (b) strongly argued against the general introduction of punitive damages into the Law of Contract.  

Secondly, he has made significant contributions to the development of the understanding of the operation and theoretical basis of vitiating factors in Contract Law, particularly in the context of vulnerable members of society.  For example, in a series of papers he challenged, and proposed an alternative to, the Birksian view of the doctrine of undue influence, and he has strongly argued against the excision of Equity in cases of contractual mistake.

Thirdly, he has a strong interest in the Law of Suretyship and the levels of protection afforded to non-professional sureties.  This has led to a number of projects which have explored such protection in an innovative and poly-contextual manner. 

Finally, in recent years a significant amount of his work has focused on EU Consumer Protection Law and the Europeanisation of Private Law.