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Durham University

Durham Law School

Staff profile

Prof Lei Chen, LLB (Hons) (Common law) LLB (Chinese Law) LLM PHD

Chair in Chinese Law in the Durham Law School

Contact Prof Lei Chen (email at


Professor Lei Chen is Chair in Chinese Law at Durham Law School, and Co-Director of the Centre for Chinese Law and Policy. Prior to joining Durham, he was Associate Dean responsible for research and internationalization (2015-2020) at the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong (CityU HK), and concurrently Director of the Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law in Hong Kong until 2020. He has been instrumental to the success of the Chinese judges training programme at CityU HK, in collaboration with the Supreme People’s Court of PRC. He is also a faculty member of the EMBA programme at CityU HK Business School.

Professor Chen is on the Law Panel of Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2020. He holds the following visiting positions: Wenlan Chair of Comparative Law at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan; Eastern Scholar Chair at East China University of Political Science and Law, Shanghai; and Global Law Professor at Faculty of Law and Center for Global Governance, KU Leuven. Professor Chen has been a Visiting Professor/Scholar at Harvard, Columbia, Emory, Hong Kong University, Tsinghua, Chuo Japan, IDC Herzliya, National University of Singapore, Singapore Management University, University of Hawaii, Catholic University of Lyon and Max-Planck Institute for Comparative Private Law in Hamburg.

Professor Chen is an editor/member of advisory board of the Chinese Journal of Comparative Law (OUP), Comparative Legal History (Hart), China-EU Law Journal (Springer), European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance (Brill), Chinese and Comparative Law book series (Brill) and Commercial Laws of Asia book series (Singapore Academy of Law). He has been an elected member of the International Academy of Comparative Law since 2010; a Fellow of the European Law Institute since 2013; Associate Member of the American Society of Comparative Law; Council Member of the Chinese Civil Law Association; and Council Member of the Chinese Comparative Law Association.

In his professional practice, Lei Chen is a seasoned international arbitrator listed in HKIAC, AIAC, BAC, CIETAC, SCIA, KCAB, DIAC, SHIAC, CAA, THIA, and ADNNRC (domain name). He has been frequently engaged as a Chinese law expert witness, by leading international law firms, in international commercial litigation and arbitration matters (commercial and investment treaty arbitrations).

As a Principal Investigator, Professor Chen has successfully obtained General Research Funds grants (GRFs) (HK equivalent of UK ESRC or AHRC grants) three times from the Hong Kong Research Grant Committee. He has also participated in a number of external research grants from ERASMUS+, Australian Research Council Discovery, Microsoft Int. and Japanese Governmental Grant.

Selected Grants

  1. The Availability of Specific Performance in Chinese Courts: An Empirical Assessment, General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grant Committee (RGC), Hong Kong Government, Estimated Amount: HKD $460,000, Jan 2016 - Jul 2018, Lei CHEN (PI).
  2. Understanding Property Transitions: The Emergence of Rural Land Markets in China, General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grant Committee (RGC), Hong Kong Government, Amount: HKD $510,000, Jan 2015 - Jun 2017, Lei CHEN (PI) .
  3. Assessing Property Relations and Formalizing Condominium Ownership in China, General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grant Committee (RGC), Hong Kong Government, Amount: HKD $499,000, Nov 2012 - Nov 2015, Lei CHEN (PI) .
  4. Contract Law in China and Europe: A Comparative Approach, EU-China Research Grant, 2011 - 2014, Co-I Jan Smits (PI).
  5. Comprehensive Analysis of Diversity of Legal Systems in Asia-Pacific Region and Convergence towards Establishment of Rule of Law, Private University Research Branding Project, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Tech日本文部科學省, Amount: JPY $3,500,000, 2017 - 2018, Co-PI (Lei CHEN); Prof. Nobuyuki Sato (PI) .
  6. Cross-border Data Transfer among Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau, Research Project commissioned by Microsoft Int. Policy Research Grant, Amount: HKD $360,000, 2018 - 2019, Lei CHEN (PI).

Selected Publications

Authored Books:

Lei Chen, Property Law in China, Cambridge University Press, (forthcoming)

Lei Chen, The Making of Chinese Condominium Law, 2010, Intersentia, Cambridge. 211 pages.

Edited Books:

Lei Chen & Jassen, Andre (2020) Dispute Resolution in China, Europe and World, Springer.

Lei Chen & DiMatteo Larry (2017), Chinese Contract Law: Civil and Common Law Perspectives, Cambridge University Press. 540 pages.

G Howells, C. Twigg-Flesner, H. Micklitz, and Lei Chen, (2017) Comparative Consumer Sales Law, Routledge. 190 pages.

Ken Oliphant, Lei Chen, and PH Zhang (2018). The Legal Protection of Personality Rights in China and Europe, Brill. 280 pages.

Lei Chen & C.H. van Rhee (2012). Towards A Chinese Civil Code: Historical and Comparative Perspectives, Brill. 562 pages.

Journal Articles: 

Lei Chen & Zhuang Liu (2021) Does the Jury Enhance Public Trust in the Judiciary, Asia Pacific Law Review (forthcoming)

YM Tang, Lei Chen & Zhuang Liu (2021). Judicial Cadres and Authoritarian Transparency: Centralized Judiciary and its Limits, Journal of Contemporary China (forthcoming)

Lei Chen & Qiyu Wang (2020) Demystifying the Doctrine of Change of Circumstances under Chinese Law A Comparative Perspective from Singapore and English Common Law, Journal of Business Law (forthcoming)

Lei Chen & Larry Di Matteo (2020) Inefficiency of Specific Performance as a Contractual Remedy in Chinese Courts: An Empirical and Normative Analysis, Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business. 40:3. 275 - 333

Geraint Howells, Christian Twigg-Flesner. Lei Chen etc. (2020) Consumer law and policy relating to change of circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Journal of Consumer Policy (forthcoming)

Lei Chen (2019) Specific Performance as a Contractual Remedy in Chinese Courts: An Empirical Study, (7:1) Chinese Journal of Comparative Law 7(1): 95-123

Lei Chen & Jia Wang (2018) Will Innovative Technology cause Innovative Legal Framework? Smart Contracts in China, European Review of Private Law. 26 (6) 21-42

Lei Chen (2018). Debating Personality Rights Protection in China: From a European Perspective,European Review of Private Law. 26 (1) 16-38

Lei Chen (2017) 超越边界:业主的权利限制之比较分析 Beyond Boundary: A Comparative Analysis of Homeowner's Tradable Entitlements, 南京大学学Journal of Nanjing University 5, 6-23

Lei Chen (2014) Evolving Property Rights in China: Patterns and Dynamics of Condominium Governance,The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law, 2014 Oxford University Press, 21-42.

Lei Chen (2014) Whither Adverse Possession in Hong Kong? Some reflections on the Consultation Paper by the Hong Kong Law Reform Commission, 5Conveyancer and Property Lawyer, 413-429

Lei Chen & M. Kielsgard (2013) The Emergence of Private Property Law and its impacts on Human Rights, 15: 1 Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal, 94-134

Lei Chen (2013) Land Registration, Property Rights, and Institutional Performance in China, Hong Kong Law Journal 44 (3), 841-864

Lei Chen (2010) The historical development of the Civil Law tradition in China: a private law perspective, Legal History Review, 78(1-2),159-181

Lei Chen & C G. van der Merwe, Reflections on the role of the managing agent in South African and Chinese condominium legislation, Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg/Journal of South African Law, 2009 (1), 22-38

Lei Chen (2010) The Developer’s Role in the Surging Chinese Condominium Housing: Through the Comparative Lens of the US System, Asia Pacific Law Review, 18(2), 223-242

Lei Chen & Hanri Mostert (2011) The Dynamics of Constitutional Property Clauses in the Developing World: China and South Africa, Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law, 17(4), 377-405

Lei Chen (2010) Private Property with Chinese Characteristics: A Critical Analysis of the Chinese Law on Property of 2007, European Review of Private Law, 18(5), 983-1004

Lei Chen (2010) Pure Economic Loss: Can Common Law System Shed Some Light?, 5 Tsinghua Law Journal (清华法学) 106-117

Lei Chen (2007) The New Chinese Property Code: A Giant Step Forward?, 11:2 European Journal of Comparative Law and Governance; 11-31.

Lei Chen & Hanri Mostert (2007) The Unavoidable Necessity of Formalizing Condominium Ownership in China: A Pilot Study, 2 Asian Journal of Comparative Law 62-88

Chapter in Book:

Lei Chen & Hao Wang (2020) Judicial Control over Arbitral Awards in Mainland China. In The Cambridge Handbook of Judicial Control of Arbitral Awards. Cambridge University Press

L. Trakman, Q. Liu. & L. Chen (2020) Investor-state Arbitration in China: A Comparative Perspective. In Dispute Resolution in Asia and Beyond: Progress and Trends, Springer

Lei Chen, A. Michelak & J. Wang (2019) The Norm of Property’s Social Function: A Chinese Perspective. In Duguit and the Social Obligation Norm of Property. Springer. 220-241

J. Wang & Lei Chen (2019) How China Regulates Smart Contracts and Wires Online Platforms as Intermediaries. In The Cambridge Handbook of Smart Contracts, Blockchain Technology and Digital Platforms. Cambridge University Press

Lei Chen (2018) Changing Perceptions of Land Ownership in China: Between the Socialist Heritage and Liberal Market. Pip Nicholson (et al) Socialist Law in Socialist East Asia. Cambridge University Press. 383-404

Lei Chen (2018) Codifying Personality Rights in China: Legislative Innovation or Scaremongering?. In The Legal Protection of Personality Rights in China and Europe. Brill 32-62

Lei Chen (2017) Damages and Specific Performance in Chinese Contract Law. In Chinese Contract Law: Civil law and Common Law Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. 377-403

Lei Chen & L. DiMatteo (2017) History of Chinese contract law. In Chinese Contract Law: Civil law and Common Law Perspectives. Cambridge University Press. 3-28

Lei Chen (2017) Relaxations to Contractual Privity and the Need for Third Party Rights in Chinese Contract Law. In Formation of Contract and Third Party Beneficiaries: Studies in the Contract Laws of Asia. Oxford University Press. 45-64

Lei Chen and G. Howells (2016) Consumer Sales Law in Hong Kong. In Comparative Consumer Sales Law. Routledge. 69-82

Lei Chen (2016) The Availability of Specific Performance in Chinese Contract Law. In Remedies for Breach in Asia . Oxford University Press. 21-42

Lei Chen (2015) The Changing Landscape of Condominium Laws and Urban Governance in China. In Private Communities and Urban Governance: Theoretical and Comparative Perspectives. Springer. 1-26

Lei Chen (2014) The Legal and Institutional Analysis of Land Expropriation in China. In Resolving Land Disputes in East Asia. Cambridge University Press. 57-84

Lei Chen, P. Chan & D. Chan (2013) Hong Kong. In Civil Litigation in China and Europe: Essays on the Role of Judges and Parties. Springer 71-126

Lei Chen (2012) Contextualizing Legal Transplant: China and Hong Kong. In Methods of Comparative Law. Elgar Edward. 192-212

Lei Chen (2012) 100 Years of the Chinese Property Law: Looking Back and Thinking forward. In Towards A Chinese Civil Code. Brill. 87-108

Lei Chen (2011) A Structural Analysis of Chinese Mortgage Law. In Essays in Honour of CG van der Merwe. LexisNexis. 403-425

Research Interests

  • Chinese civil and commercial law
  • Comparative contract law
  • International arbitration
  • Property law