Dr Catherine Mitchell

Dr Catherine Mitchell

Birmingham Law School
Reader in Private Law

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Catherine is a Reader in Private Law at Birmingham Law School. Her research and teaching centres mainly around Contract law and related subjects. She has published widely on different aspects of contract law and her work has been cited by the House of Lords, the Singapore Court of Appeal and by  the Law Commissions of England and Scotland.


  • LLB Hons (Essex)
  • LLM (Aberd)
  • PhD (Hull)
  • FHEA


Catherine joined Birmingham Law School in 2016 after 23 years in the Law School at the University of Hull. She graduated in Law from the University of Essex in 1988. She also holds a Masters degree in Jurisprudence from the University of Aberdeen (1992).  She gained her PhD through published works in 2015. Her main teaching responsibilities are in Contract Law, Commercial Law and related subjects.   She became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2015.


  • Contract law 
  • International Sale of Goods
  • Widening Horizons: Key Moments in Law and Policy
  • Law in Action 1.

Postgraduate supervision

Catherine  would be interested in supervising research students on topics in commercial contract law, particularly contract interpretation and the role of commercial expectations and informal norms in contract law.

She has supervised students working on electronic contracting, EU contract law and the role of standard terms and conditions in business contracting.

Find out more - our PhD Law  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


Catherine's research interests lie primarily within the field of the private law of obligations. In particular all aspects of contract law including nature and theory of contractual obligations, remedies, consumer and commercial contracts, and the relationship between contract, tort and restitution. She is also interested in legal theory, particularly legal reasoning, interpretation in law and law and literature.

Her most recent monograph, Contract Law And Contract Practice: Bridging The Gap Between Legal Reasoning And Commercial Expectation, was published by Hart in 2013.  Previously published work includes a book, Interpretation of Contracts (Routledge Cavendish, 2007), as well as articles and short papers on exclusion clauses, third party rights, restitutionary damages and entire agreement clauses in contracts. She is currently working on a second edition of Interpretation of Contracts (Routledge) which is due to be published in 2017.  She is also involved in projects examining networks and contract law, and the law relating to behavioural obligations in contracts.

Other activities

  • External Examiner on LLB degrees, Dublin City University (2014-present)
  • Member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Contract Law.



  • Interpretation of Contracts(2nd ed, Routledge, Oxford) – forthcoming 2017.
  • Contract Law And Contract Practice:  Bridging The Gap Between Legal Reasoning And Commercial Expectation ISBN 978-1-84946-121-4 (2013, Hart Publishing, Oxford), 308pp.
  • Interpretation of Contracts ISBN 978–1–84568–044–2 (2007, Routledge-Cavendish, Oxford)  160pp +xii 


  • ‘Behavioural Standards in Contracts and English Contract Law’ (2016) 33 Journal of Contract Law 234-253.
  • ‘Obligations in Commercial Contracts: A Matter of Law or Interpretation?’ (2012) 65 Current Legal Problems 455-488. 
  • ‘Contract Interpretation: Pragmatism, Principle and the Prior Negotiations Rule’  (2010) 26 Journal of Contract Law  134-159.
  • ‘Contracts and Contract Law: Challenging the Distinction Between the ‘Real’ and ‘Paper’ Deal’ (2009) 29 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 675-704.
  • ‘Narrativising Contract Law’  (2009) 29 Legal Studies 19-46.
  • ‘Entire Agreement Clauses: Contracting out of Contextualism’ (2006) 22 Journal of Contract Law 222-245.
  • ‘Leading a Life of its Own? The Role of Reasonable Expectation in Contract Law’ (2003) 23 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 639-665.
  • ‘Promise, Performance and Damages for Breach of Contract’ [2003] Journal of Obligations and Remedies 67-86.
  • ‘Contract: There’s Still Life in the Classical Law’  [2003] Cambridge Law Journal 26-29.
  • ‘Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts’  (2000) 116 Law Quarterly Review 557-562.
  • ‘Remedial Inadequacy in Contract and the Role of Restitutionary Damages’ (1999) 15 Journal of Contract Law 133–155. 
  • ‘Privity Reform and the Nature of Contractual Obligations’ (1999) 19 Legal Studies 229-244.
  • ‘Privity of Contract: Another Missed Opportunity’ (1997) 48 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly 286-296.
  • ‘Replacing Private Property: The Case for Stewardship’ (1996) 55 Cambridge Law Journal 566-600 (co-authored with Professor William Lucy, University of Durham).

Book chapters:

  • ‘Network Commercial Relationships: What role for Contract Law?’ in Rob van Gestel, Hans-W. Micklitz and Roger Brownsword (eds) Research Handbook on Contract and Regulation (Edward Elgar, forthcoming 2017)

  • ‘Interpreting Commercial Contracts: The Policing Role of Context in English Law’ in Larry DiMatteo and Martin Hogg (eds) Comparative Contract Law: British and American Perspectives (Oxford, OUP, 2015).
  • ‘Comment on Blake Morant’ in Larry DiMatteo and Martin Hogg (eds) Comparative Contract Law: British and American Perspectives (Oxford, OUP, 2015)
  • ‘Commercial Contract Law and the ‘Real Deal’’ in Christian Twigg-Flesner and Gonzalo Villalta-Puig (eds) The Boundaries of Commercial and Trade Law (Sellier European Law Publishers, Munich, 2011) 21-50.
  • ‘Searching for the Principles Behind Privity Reform’ in Peter Kincaid (ed)  Privity: Private Justice or Public Regulation  (Dartmouth, Aldershot, 2001) 104-125.

Recent lectures and conference presentations:

  • ‘Interpreting Behavioural Standards in English Contract Law’ Dicey Symposium, All Souls College, Oxford University, 6 June 2016
  • Commentary on Radosveta Vassileva, ‘What ‘Social Contract’ for the European Union? Rethinking the Harmonization of Contract Law from the Perspective of Social Contract Theory’, New Work in Obligations, 20 April 2016, Faculty of Laws, UCL, London  
  • ‘Contract Law and Contract Practice’,  Watson, Farley & Williams LLP, London, 2 July 2015.
  • ‘Networks, contract relations, and contract law’ (Research Seminar, Glasgow School of Law, February 11 2015)  
  • ‘Network Expectations and the Bilateral Contract’ (Contract and Regulation conference, Law Department, European University Institute (Florence) 16 January 2015)  
  • ‘Commentary on Hugh Collins, ‘The Rules of the Game: Private Ordering through Standard Form Boilerplate’’ (Private Orderings Conference, Said Business School, University of Oxford, 2 September 2014).
  • ‘Contract Law and Contract Practice: Author meets readers session’ (Society of Legal Scholars Conference, University of Nottingham, 10 September 2014).
  • ‘Interpreting Commercial Contracts: The Policing Role of Context in English Law’ presented at Transatlantic Perspectives on Commercial Contract Law II conference at the University of Edinburgh, August 30-September 1, 2013.
  • ‘Contract Law and Contract Practice’ presented to the North East Regional Obligations Group, 5 July 2013, University of Northumbria.
  • ‘Obligations in Commercial Contracts: A Matter of Law or Interpretation?’ 65th Current Legal Problems Lecture Series, Faculty of Laws, UCL, 2 February 2012.
  • ‘The Reasonable Expectations of Honest Men and the English Law of Contract Interpretation’, Houthoff Buruma law firm, The Hague, 25 November 2011.  

Selected reviews:

  • J Morgan, Contract Law Minimalism (2014) 25 International Company and Commercial Law Review 324-326.
  • M. Furmston and G. J. Tolhurst, Contract Formation [2011] Journal of Business Law 120-123.
  • Hartkamp, Martijn Hesselink, et al., (eds)  Towards a European Civil Code [2006] Journal of Consumer Policy 233-236.
  • James Gordley (ed.), The Enforceability of Promises in European Contract Law (2003) 9 European Public Law 579-582.

View all publications in research portal



Contract law