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Professor Catharine MacMillan


Catharine MacMillan currently teaches on the following modules:

  • Commercial Law
  • Contract Law
  • Elements of the Law of Finance
  • History of English Law

She has supervised postgraduate theses in English Legal History. She is a Co-Director of the Reading Forum for Legal and Historical Research.

Professor MacMillan's main research interests are in private law, with an emphasis on the historical development of the common law. She has published and spoken widely on aspects of this development with a particular reference to its relevance to contemporary law.

Catharine MacMillan is engaged in researching the nineteenth and early twentieth century development of English private law. Recent publications have concerned the contractual doctrines of frustration, privity and unconscionability. She has a particular interest in the adjudication of mercantile disputes by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council within the nineteenth century British Empire. She is currently engaged in writing a legal biography of Judah Benjamin. The work examines the influences Benjamin brought to bear upon the English common law and the impact these influences had upon the development of the common law.

External Activities:
Catharine MacMillan is a Council Member of the Selden Society. She is an Executive Committee member of the Society of Legal Scholars and editor of The Reporter. She serves as a member of the American Legal History Society's Cromwell Dissertation Prize Committee.

Further Publications:

  • 'How Temptation Led to Mistake: An Explanation of Bell v Lever Bros Ltd' (2003) 119 Law Quarterly Review 625
'A Birthday Present for Lord Denning: the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999' (2000) 63 Modern Law Review 721
  • 'Upholding contractual intentions: Lord Denning's dissent in Scruttons Ltd v Midland Silicones Ltd [1962] A.C. 446' in Dissenting Judgments, ed N. Geach and C. Monaghan (Wildy, Simonds 2012)
  • 'No longer taken to be cognisant of the law? Mistake of Law in Contract and Restitution in Canada and England' in Re-examining Contract and Unjust Enrichment: An Anglo-Canadian Perspective, ed. Paula Giliker (Martinus Nijhoff 2007)
  • 'Solle v Butcher (1949)' in Landmark Cases in the Law of Restitution, ed Charles Mitchell and Paul Mitchell (Hart Publishing 2006)
  • 'Mistaken Arguments: The role of argument in the development of a doctrine of contractual mistake in nineteenth century England' in Law and History: Current Legal Issues 2003, edited by Andrew Lewis and Michael Lobban (Oxford University Press 2004)

Biographical details:
Catharine MacMillan joined the University of Reading Law School in 2013. She has previously been a Reader in Legal History at Queen Mary, University of London. Prior to entering academia, Catharine MacMillan practised in commercial litigation.


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