Published on 29/09/2023
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Professor Simon Lee holding a copy of the Birmingham Mail
  • Professor Simon Lee is a pioneer of the public understanding of law
  • The lecture will trace the recent history of significant challenges in the courts to decisions by local authorities, central government and higher education institutions
  • Professor Lee will bring valuable insights about the development of public law to contemporary and complex issues that are shaping our futures in Birmingham and beyond.

An influential legal expert and pioneer of the public understanding of law, who contributed to the peace process in Northern Ireland, will be giving an inaugural public lecture at Aston University on Wednesday 18 October 2023 at Aston Business School. 

Professor Simon Lee, Aston Law School, is a highly experienced academic within the legal world, having been a Brackenbury Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford, a Harkness Fellow at Yale Law School, a lecturer in law at Trinity College, Oxford, and King’s College London, before becoming Professor of Jurisprudence at Queen’s University Belfast in 1989 and later dean of the faculty of law, then Emeritus Professor of Jurisprudence in 1995 when he returned to England to take up university leadership roles. 

Most recently, as Professor of Law at The Open University (OU) he was director of research as their law school, the biggest in Europe, entered the national Research Excellence Framework exercise for the first time in 2021, before joining Aston University in September 2022 with the intention of developing its law school’s first entry in REF 2028. 

He is the author of several books and has honorary doctorates from both sides of the Atlantic. Simon Lee is in the unusual position of giving this inaugural lecture more than thirty years after his first inaugural, when he was appointed by Queen’s as the youngest law professor in the UK. 

In his talk, Professor Lee will bring valuable insights about the development of public law to contemporary and complex issues that are shaping our futures.

Professor Lee said: 

“My inaugural lecture will consider how local authorities, central government and higher education institutions have made some astonishing decisions, how they have been challenged in the courts, and how we can all learn from how the judges are developing the principles of fairness, reasonableness and the rule of law. 

“I will address the recent narrative around Birmingham City Council ‘going bankrupt’, especially as in law no council can become bankrupt, and consider the questions everyone is asking about how it came to this. My lecture will also include lessons from older cases in the history of local government, central government and higher education when mistakes were made.

“I will discuss the common refrain nationally as well as locally that the ‘public square’ - the sphere of public institutions and opinion - is broken or bankrupt or morally bankrupt or bankrupt of ideas and explain how Law’s Repair Shop can restore the public square.”

To book at place at Professor Lee’s inaugural lecture, click here.

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44) 74469 10063 or email:

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