Professor Sylvie Delacroix

Professor Sylvie Delacroix

Birmingham Law School
Professor in Law and Ethics

Contact details

Birmingham Law School
Room 401 Arts
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

'Sylvie Delacroix focuses on the intersection between law and ethics, with a particular interest in Data and Machine Ethics, Agency and the role of habit within moral decisions (Habitual Ethics?,  Bloomsbury / Hart Publishing, 2021). Her current research focuses on the design of computer systems meant for morally-loaded contexts. She is also considering the potential inherent in ‘bottom-up’ Data Trusts as a mechanism to address power imbalances between data-subjects and data-controllers.

Professor Delacroix’s work has notably been funded by the Wellcome Trust, the NHS and the Leverhulme Trust, from whom she received the Leverhulme Prize.

Professor Delacroix was one of three appointed commissioners on the Public Policy Commission on the use of algorithms in the justice system (Law Society of England and Wales), which released its report on 04 June 2019.

She is a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute and a Mozilla Fellow.

Visit the Data Trusts website - a new site co-created by Sylvie that brings together information about data trusts, with the aim of helping advance debate about their use.

Sylvie's personal website is at


  • PhD, Cambridge University, Trinity College
  • Licenses in Law, Université Catholique de Louvain La Neuve (Belgium)
  • Candidatures in Philosophy, Facultés Universitaires Saint Louis (Belgium)
  • Post-graduate Certificate in Higher Education, University of Kent


Sylvie Delacroix joined Birmingham Law School as a Professorial Research Fellow in January 2018, coming from UCL where she was a reader in Legal Theory and Ethics, with a fractional appointment in UCL Computer Science. Prior to that Sylvie was the Evelyn Green Davis Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Harvard University, 2004-05), a lecturer in Law in Kent University and a post-doctoral scholar in Trinity College, Cambridge University.

Sylvie Delacroix was the founding Director of the UCL Centre for Ethics and Law, which was sponsored by E&Y, HSBC, Shell, Nestle, BAE, AstraZeneca, Carillion, The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the Institute of Business Ethics. This initiative led her to piloting a series of inter-disciplinary think-tanks, each based on a cutting-edge public policy issue volunteered by the sponsors of the Centre, and subsequently analysed by both academics and corporates across disciplines. It is in that context that she launched the UCL Virtual Environments and the Professions Group in collaboration with colleagues in Engineering and Medical Sciences. This Group explored the use of VR technology both as a tool to gain a better understanding of the factors impacting upon professional judgment and as an ethical education tool.

In 2010 She was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in law, awarded to recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising. This Prize allowed her to further her commitment to a two-way relationship between legal theory and public Affairs, which can be seen at play in her work on the Palestinian constitution-making endeavour, as well as her recent work on Professional responsibility on one hand and Machine Ethics on the other.

Postgraduate supervision

Until the end of 2021, Professor Delacroix is only considering PhD proposals considering the potential inherent in ‘Data Trusts’ and/or other data sharing mechanisms.

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


Much of Sylvie Delacroix’s current work calls for renewed attention to be paid to habits and their relationship to normative agency. Mostly neglected in moral and legal theory (and rarely studied empirically), such an inquiry not only conditions an adequate understanding of the moral risks inherent in any institutional structure aimed at simplifying our practical reasoning (such as law). It is also essential if we are to come to grips with the public policy challenges raised by our growing reliance upon automated systems.


Recent publications


Delacroix, S 2021, 'Computing Machinery, Surprise and Originality', Philosophy and Technology.

Delacroix, S 2021, 'Professional responsibility: conceptual rescue and plea for reform', Oxford Journal of Legal Studies.

Delacroix, S 2019, 'At a cross-roads? The courts' shifting apprehension of the vulnerability at stake in the lay-healthcare provider relationship', Journal of Medical Law and Ethics, vol. 2019, no. 2. <>

Delacroix, S & Lawrence, N 2019, 'Bottom-up data Trusts: disturbing the ‘one size fits all’ approach to data governance', International Data Privacy Law.

Delacroix, S 2019, 'Understanding normativity: the impact of culturally-loaded explanatory ambitions', Revus, vol. 35.,

Pan, X, Collingwoode-Williams, T, Antley, A, Brenton, H, Congdon, B, Drewett, O, Gillies, M, Swapp, D, Pleasence, P, Fertleman, C & Delacroix, S 2018, 'A study of professional awareness using immersive virtual reality: the responses of general practitioners to child safeguarding concerns', Frontiers in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, vol. 5, 80.

Delacroix, S 2018, 'Computer Systems Fit for the Legal Profession?', Legal Ethics.,

Delacroix, S 2017, 'Law and Habits', Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 37, no. 3, pp. 660-686.

Pan, X, Slater, M, Beacco, A, Navarro, X, Rivas, AIB, Swapp, D, Hale, J, Forbes, PAG, Denvir, C, Hamilton, AFDC & Delacroix, S 2016, 'The Responses of Medical General Practitioners to Unreasonable Patient Demand for Antibiotics - A Study of Medical Ethics Using Immersive Virtual Reality', PLoS ONE, vol. 11, e0146837.

Delacroix, S 2014, 'From Constitutional words to Statehood? The Palestinian case', Cambridge International Law Journal, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 1164-1181.

Delacroix, S 2012, 'Drafting a Constitution for a "country of words"', Middle East Law and Governance, vol. 4, pp. 306-325.


Delacroix, S & Veale, M 2019, Smart technologies and our sense of self: going beyond epistemic counter-profiling. in K O'Hara & M Hildebrandt (eds), Law and Life in the Era of Data Driven Agency. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., pp. 75-86.

Delacroix, S & Denvir, C 2019, Virtually Teaching Ethics: Experiencing the Discrepancy between Abstract Ethical Stands and Actual Behaviour using Immersive Virtual Reality. in C Denvir (ed.), Modernising Legal Education. Cambridge University Press. <>

Delacroix, S 2018, From agency-enhancement intentions to profile-based optimisation tools: what is lost in translation. in E Bayamlıoğlu, I Baraliuc, L Janssens & M Hildebrandt (eds), Being Profiled. Cogitas Ergo Sum. Amsterdam University Press, pp. 16-19.


Fertleman, CR, Delacroix, S, Sher, C, Pan, X, Lumley, S & Lim, A 2017, 'Can a short interactive communication scenario in virtual reality alter future clinician behaviour to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing in General Practice?', 3rd UCL Centre for Behaviour Change Digital Health Conference 2017, London, United Kingdom, 22/02/17 - 23/02/17. <>

View all publications in research portal


  • The intersection between law and ethics
  • Machine ethics and agency
  • AI ethics and regulation 
  • Personalised profiling and its impact on ethical agency and civic responsibility
  • Ambient computing and its impact on ethical agency and civic responsibility

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities