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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School
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Professor James Davey 

Professor of Insurance and Commercial Law

Professor James Davey's photo

James Davey is Professor of Insurance & Commercial Law within Southampton Law School at the University of Southampton.

He joined Southampton Law School in 2014. His research and teaching interests lie in insurance and commercial law generally. He is currently Deputy President of the British Insurance Law Association (BILA). During an academic career spanning more than a quarter of a century, James has established himself as one of the United Kingdom’s leading insurance academics. His work challenged the dominant view of insurance as a sub-set of contract law, and has applied a wide range of principles drawn from law & (behavioural) economics and socio-legal studies. In this, he follows the example of North American insurance law scholarship, and this has brought personal and professional contacts across the common law world. This is mirrored in his teaching, which reflects his particular expertise in contractual remedies and insurance contract law and theory.

James has supervised PhDs on aspects of marine insurance law, including the coverage of human error, the limits of the forfeiture doctrine and the operation of the Insurance Act 2015 on insurance warranties (and related terms). He is currently supervising doctoral students on gender pay audits, and on the relative advantages of insurance and engineering solutions to coastal flooding. He is available for PhD supervision in the fields of insurance & reinsurance law, including the regulation of insurance, and in the law & economics of contract.

Research interests

James’s research forms part of a longstanding dialogue with key participants in insurance markets. His work on human genetics and insurance was cited by the Alzheimer’s society to Parliament in the debates that led to the UK Moratorium on the use of genetic test results by underwriters. Similarly, his work on physician-assisted suicide and life insurance contracts (with Professor John Coggon) led to the revision of proposals to reform the law in that field. He worked with leading insurance lawyers during litigation on the limits of the law on fraudulent claims (in Versloot) and pre-contractual duties (The North Star). His work on insurance fraud was argued before the Supreme Court in Versloot, but dismissed in the lead judgment by Lord Sumption (at [10]) on the basis that empirical evidence as to the effect of legal principle was not relevant to the formulation of those rules:

‘These points have some force. But I doubt whether they are relevant. Courts are rarely in a position to assess empirically the wider behavioural consequences of legal rules. The formation of legal policy in this as in other areas depends mainly on the vindication of collective moral values and on judicial instincts about the motivation of rational beings, not on the scientific anthropology of fraud or underwriting’. The remainder of the Supreme Court were less wedded to this vision of ‘rational fraud’, but agreed on the substantive law.

James was an invited participant on the Association of British Insurers / Ministry of Justice Taskforce on Insurance Fraud (throughout 2015), with recommendations adopted and implemented on the use of behavioural economics to combat opportunistic fraud. During 2015/16, he participated in similar meetings on the shaping of Flood Re. Alongside other members of the Insurance Law Research Group, he assisted the Law Commission with its proposals on insurance contract law. He has provided written evidence to Parliamentary Committees and the Financial Conduct Authority on the likely effect of ‘Big Data’ on insurance and the inclusion of autonomous vehicles within the UK’s statutory motor insurance regime.

James is a regular speaker at British Insurance Law Association events at the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, on topics including the effect of Brexit on financial services law, a debate on insurable interest, and the uncertain nature of insurance fraud data.

He is co-author of the leading practitioner work on war risks and marine insurance, Miller’s Marine War Risks.

His current research considers:

  • the systemic effects of AI-driven insurance pricing on the fundamental nature of insurance, and
  • the growing use of State support to ‘smooth’ pricing in respect of catastrophic losses.

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  • Davey, M., Davey, J., & Caplin, O. (2020). Marine war risks. (4th ed.) (LLoyd's Shipping Law Library). Informa.

Book Chapters



Working Papers

Contract Law LAWS1015
Insurance Contract Law LAWS3088
Insurance Law LAWS6099

Professor James Davey
Southampton Law School, Building 4 University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ UK

Room Number: 4/2027

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