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Durham Law School

Staff profile

Prof John Linarelli, BA, MA, LLM, JD, PhD

Professor in the Durham Law School
Ref Mentor, Durham Law School

Contact Prof John Linarelli (email at


Professor John Linarelli holds a Chair in Commercial Law at Durham. He has served in professorial posts on both sides of the Atlantic, in both the UK and the USA. He joined Durham Law School in October 2014. He is a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University Law School in Autumn 2018 and at the American University Washington College of Law in Spring 2019. He currently serves as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Global Legal Studies at Jilin University in Changchun China. He has served as a Visiting Professor at Georgetown University Law Center and Northeastern University School of Law. He was a Visiting Professor of Law at Jilin University School of Law in Autumn 2015, affiliating with Jilin’s Centre for Jurisprudence Research and with the Judicial Innovation Centre, a collaboration between Jilin University, China University of Political Science and Law, and Wuhan University. He has been a Visiting Scholar at the UCLA School of Law and the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. He has taught law and economics at the University of California Irvine and philosophy at the University of California Riverside.

Professor Linarelli is trained at the doctorate level in two disciplines, law and philosophy. He received an MA and PhD in Philosophy from the University of California Riverside, where he held a Dean’s Fellowship. He holds a PhD in Law from King's College University of London. He earned his LLM in International and Comparative Law at Georgetown University with distinction, graduating first in class, receiving the Thomas Bradbury Chetwood SJ Prize. While earning his JD from the American University Washington College of Law, he worked as a law clerk in the Tax Division of the US Department of Justice and the US Army. He earned a BA in Economics and Political Science, magna cum laude from Duquesne University. 

Professor Linarelli is the author of over sixty publications and publishes in both law and philosophy journals. He is among the 10% of most downloaded authors on Social Science Research Network.

Professor Linarelli is a leading global voice in bringing theories of global justice in contact with international economic law. His recent work includes his co-authored book, with M Sornarajah (NUS) and Margot Salomon (LSE), published by with Oxford University Press in 2018, The Misery of International Law: Confrontations with Injustice in the Global Economy, has received widespread acclaim:

By resisting the artificial division between the political and the economic in the international legal order and insisting on an holistic analysis that faces up to international law's long engagement with the projects of Western capitalism this excellent book breaks new ground in critical international law scholarship. Essential reading for scholars of international law and for everyone else who wants to understand the size and nature of the slippage between law and justice in the global order. (Fiona Macmillan, Professor of Law, Birkbeck, University of London)

The Misery of International Law is a work for the ages. Aptly titled, this uniquely insightful and tremendously well researched book is the quintessential work of the intellect...They deftly, and convincingly, take down the fictions and contradictions of a scandalous international legal order. They show not only the inability of human rights to effectively confront economic powerlessness, but how instead it buttresses the same injustices. Their scholarship stands in the rarefied pantheon of the most illuminating international legal scholarship I have read to date. It complements the school of thought known as TWAIL, or Third World Approaches to International Law. I am confident that The Misery of International Law will become a standard by which critical international legal scholarship will be measured. (Makau Mutua, SUNY Distinguished Professor, SUNY Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York)

This arresting book starts where many texts of international law leave off. It goes behind the rhetoric of rules-based systems and justice to study how power operates in the international economic system. The book shows how international law disguises and sustains the injustice of the international economic order. It is full of unsettling insights and uncomfortable observation, identifying and challenging the law's commitment to the private accumulation of transnational capital, including in the area of human rights. The Misery of International Law will change the terms of debates about international economic law. (Professor Hilary Charlesworth AM, Melbourne Laureate Professor at Melbourne Law School, and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University)

A thoughtful, passionate and deeply engaging book that successfully unites radical and liberal critiques of international law into a powerful and unified call for economic justice. The authors pull no punches and deliver a sharply critical yet ultimately constructive account of international economic law, while embodying the kind of pluralist approach essential in any 21st century treatment of global justice. Linarelli, Salomon and Sornarajah help us understand just how far we have yet to go towards basic economic fairness on a global scale, and international laws complicity in this state of affairs. The authors paint a challenging and sobering picture, but if we are serious about working towards a better world, this is where we must begin. A necessary and welcome book. (Frank J. Garcia, Professor and Deans Global Fund Scholar, Boston College Law School)

A searching critique of the 'moral disorder of international economic law' is here reinforced by the 'pathologies' of international law as whole, display versatile forms of highly 'duplicitous normative forces' at work. A more sustained philosophical and pragmatic critique of global capital is hard to come by; this work needs to be read by all to understand what alternatives look like, particularly in the advancing Anthropocene. (Upendra Baxi, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Warwick and Distinguished Professor of Law, NLUD, Delhi)

Professor Linarelli has edited and co-edited two major volumes on global justice and international economic law, one of the earliest volumes on the subject, with Chi Carmody (Western Ontario) and Frank Garcia (Boston College), Global Justice and International Economic Law: Opportunities and Prospects, published by Cambridge University Press in 2009, and the other the Research Handbook on Global Justice and International Economic Law, published by Edward Elgar in 2013.

Professor Linarelli’s work in commercial and financial law is comparative, transnational, and interdisciplinary. He is General Editor of the book series, Hart Studies in Commercial and Financial Law, published by Hart Publishing. In 2017 he co-convened the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS) Seminar, The Future of Commercial Law: Ways Forward for Harmonisation, which will result in a book to be published by Hart in the series. His work in transnational commercial law has been praised as offering the ‘first serious philosophical analysis of commercial law’. Hart will publish his book, The Idea of Commercial Law, in 2019.

Professor Linarelli is a globally recognised expert on public procurement law. He is a co-author of Regulating Public Procurement: National and International Perspectives (Kluwer 2000) with Sue Arrowsmith (Nottingham) and Don Wallace Jr (Georgetown), one the first works in the field with an international and comparative focus and one of the most widely cited in the field. He is a General Editor for the Public Procurement Law Review. 

Professor Linarelli has given over forty papers and talks globally, including in the United States, China, India, and Europe. His recent keynotes include ‘Inequality and Financial Markets’, for the Centre for the Study of European Contract Law Conference, ‘European Private Law at the Time of Growing Inequality’, at the University of Amsterdam on 30 September 2016. He served on the plenary panel for the 21st Annual Common Core of European Private Law conference, ‘Property and Inequality in the 21st Century’, held on 12-13 June 2015 at University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The notes for his talk ‘Property and Inequality: Two Paradigms’ can be found at

Professor Linarelli has peer reviewed for Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Edward Elgar, Hart, Routledge, and various highly ranked journals.

Professor Linarelli is a Fellow in the European Law Institute, a Fellow in the Royal Society of the Arts, and a Senior Fellow in the UK Higher Education Academy.

You can watch his Tedx Talk, ‘Debt, Inequality, and Law for Capitalists, He was guest blogger on the Oxford Business Law Blog at and on the Business Law Prof Blog,, May 2016.

Professor Linarelli has served in various capacities for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and other intergovernmental organizations. He brings substantial Washington DC law firm practice experience to Durham, having spent a good part of his practice career at the Washington DC law firm of what was then Dickstein, Shapiro & Morin. He is a member of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia Bars (all inactive or associate status).

Legal Scholarship Network Author Page

Follow on Twitter at @JohnLinarelli.


Note on PhD Supervision

I welcome research proposals from potential applicants to Durham Law School’s PhD programme. I am interested in supervising PGR students willing to undertake a substantial interdisciplinary approach in their research. My main areas of interdisciplinary focus are in moral and political philosophy. I also have interests in law and the behavioural sciences and law and economics. Whilst you will undertake a dissertation in Law under my supervision, I hold a firm view that your dissertation will be much more rigorous and compelling if you commit to serious interdisciplinary work. To support you in this commitment, I will hold reading groups, in effect pro-seminars, with my postgraduate students, in which we read key texts together. If you are interested, I encourage you to submit a research proposal. 

Research Interests

  • Commercial Law
  • Financial Regulation
  • International Economic Law
  • Law and Economics
  • Law and the Behavioural Sciences
  • Moral Philosophy
  • Political Philosophy

Teaching Areas

  • Global Financial Law
  • Law and Behavioural Economics

Selected Grants

  • 2017: The Future of Commercial Law: Ways Forward for Harmonisation (£10000.00 from The Society of Legal Scholars)


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article