Professor Richard Lewis
Professor / Sêr Cymru Research Chair in Neurobiology
In 2014 Oxford University awarded Richard Lewis a Doctorate of Civil Law, one of the two most senior degrees it can confer. The DCL is customarily conferred on visiting Heads of State and senior academics for "exceptionally insightful and distinctive publications that contain significant and original contributions to the study of law or politics in general." Prior to this in 2007 Richard was the first person to receive from Cardiff University its senior degree of Doctor of Laws, the LLD.
Richard was educated at West Mon School, Pontypool, and Lincoln College, Oxford. After obtaining a first class degree from Oxford University and completing the Law Society examinations, he joined the solicitors firm of Norton Rose in the City of London. However, he interrupted his employment to take up a position on the Faculty at Northwestern Law School at the university in Chicago. He never returned to practice. In 1974 he joined the University in Cardiff and, apart from further periods of time spent in North America, he has remained there ever since. He has seen the Law School grow to one of the largest and most important in the country.
Richard has published extensively in the areas of accident compensation, and public and private insurance. He is the author of the award-winning book, Structured Settlements: The Law And Practice. This deals with the payment of damages by means of a pension instead of the traditional lump sum. Previously he wrote a book dealing with Compensation For Industrial Injury. His book Deducting Benefits From Damages For Personal Injury, published by the Oxford University Press, examined the relationships between different compensation schemes. He has also written various social security law publications, and is an editor of the Journal of Law and Society. He has contributed many articles to the leading academic law journals and is the author of more than 140 publications. He is a well known speaker at conferences, particularly those dealing with compensation for personal injury.
Richard is one of the module leaders for the second year core course, the Law of Tort. As Director of International Recruitment, he is also often required to represent the Law School abroad.
Richard is the principal UK investigator in a European funded project which examines empirically how the personal injury system in practice differs from that described in the books on tort. His article on the tactics lawyers use in negotiations to settle such cases will be published in 2017 in Legal Studies. Richard's other recent work includes analyses of 'compensation culture.'
There are special electronic links towards the top of this page which give access to Richard's full list of publications as well as describing his main areas of research. Included in these links are extracts from reviews of his books and details of papers he has given at some recent conferences. Publications can also be found on the social science research nework and on Researchgate
My main research has been into the structure and working of the system of compensation for personal injury.
This has involved examining the law and practice of claims not only for damages in tort, but also for social security benefits. Although these are distinct sources of compensation, involving different legal traditions, personnel and practice, they share certain features. Their relationship and relative importance has previously attracted only limited attention.
The focus of this research has been in five areas:
- the compensation provided by the state under the industrial injuries scheme
- the form of the compensation and, in particular, the use of pension payments as opposed to lump sums
- the interrelationship of compensation systems and, especially the deduction of collateral benefits from damages for personal injury
- the economics involved in the assessment of damages
- the importance of insurance and the insurance industry to compensation systems.
The other broad area into which research has been conducted relates to the law and operation of commerce. Of particular interest has been the extent to which law is used in practice in order to regulate commercial activity. Legal sanctions can be contrasted with other, less formal methods of control. Studies have been published of the limited use made of the law by the state (in dealing with undesirable business practices), by businessmen (in relation to regulating contractual relationships within the building industry), and by insurers (in adhering to their own internal agreements rather than the law).
The different areas of the research have often employed socio-legal techniques. That is, the legal rules have been set in their wider social, political and economic contexts, and analyses have been made of the use and effect of the rules in practice.
Empirical studies have been made of the operation of the legal system. In addition, close contact has been developed with those at the cutting edge of personal injury litigation and social security practice. Work has not therefore been confined to traditional doctrinal legal scholarship which focuses upon the rules produced by appellate court decisions. It has extended beyond the use of library sources, and encompassed the operation of the legal system in practice so as to reflect the experience of practitioners and others who come into contact with the law. The work reflects the philosophy that it may be as important to discover what lawyers do as much as to analyse what judges say. Although such an approach has become more common in recent years, it remains the work of a minority of legal scholars.