Professor Alastair Mullis
Head of School
I am a graduate of King’s College London (LLB, 1984) and Downing College Cambridge (LLM, 1985). Prior to joining Leeds, I held positions at King’s College London (1989-1999) and the University of East Anglia (1999-2013) where I was Dean and Head of the Law School for eight years. I currently hold visiting professorships at the Universities of Muenster, Germany, and Thammasat, Thailand and have previously held visiting professorships in the United States and Tunisia.
My research interests lie in the fields of tort law, especially defamation and related wrongs, media law and aspects of international commercial law. I am the joint general editor (with HHJ Richard Parkes QC) of Gatley Libel and Slander and was previously general editor (with Cameron Doley) of Carter-Ruck on Libel and Privacy and the author of the chapters on the English law of defamation. I am also the author of books on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods and the law of torts and have written several articles on these and other subjects.
I teach on the following modules:
- Law of Torts (undergraduate)
- International Sales Law (postgraduate).
I have supervised students in the fields of torts, media law and international commercial law.
Carter Ruck on Libel and Privacy, ed. by Mullis ACL and Doley C, Butterworths Common Law Series, 6th (Butterworths, [n.d.]), 1-126, 147-554,
Carter-Ruck on Libel and Privacy is the fully re-written and renamed edition of this leading volume on the law governing publication and private interests. It offers comprehensive coverage of the substantive laws of defamation and privacy in England and Wales, details the legal practice and procedure in those areas, and gives an account of the comparable laws in over 60 other jurisdictions. ACL Mullis was the joint general editor and author of 15 out of 55 chapters.
‘The Swing of the Pendulum: Reputation, Expression and the Recentering of English Libel Law’, Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 63.1 (2012), 27-58,
The design of any libel regime must involve an appropriate accommodation between individual rights and social interests in both freedom of expression and reputation. For 20 years English legislation and jurisprudence on libel has been driven almost exclusively by the perceived need for existing rules of law to comply with Article 10. Freedom of expression has been regarded as the 'trump card'. In the light of developments in European and English jurisprudence, this approach is no longer tenable. Reputation has been confirmed as part of the Article 8 right to respect for private life and must be balanced against Article 10 when legislation is passed and when courts determine disputes. Yet, it is not clear that a coherent intellectual underpinning has been articulated by the courts to explain this jurisprudential innovation. After reviewing the development of the law and the rights context, this paper considers the four main justifications offered by judges and others to explain the articulation between reputation and privacy. It contends that only one of these justifications is coherent, and sets out a dualistic understanding of reputation that values both public perceptions of the character of an individual and that individual’s sense of self-esteem engendered by the perceived quality of this public regard. It suggests that only insofar as the latter aspect is impugned should reputation fall within the ambit of Article 8. The paper reflects on the possible ramifications of the rights-based resurgence of reputation for a number of areas of the extant law.
‘Reframing Libel: taking (all) rights seriously and where it leads’, Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly, 63.1 (2012), 1-25,
n preparing this paper, we have returned to first principles and re-evaluated fundamental aspects of libel law, its purposes, its substance, and its processes. Our thinking has been informed by, first, philosophical understandings of democracy and the public sphere and in particular the role of freedom of speech and of the media therein, and secondly, the social psychology of reputation and privacy. Ultimately, we recommend a coherent set of significant substantive and procedural reforms that if enacted would enhance access to justice, simplify processes and reduce costs for the vast majority of libel actions. In essence, our proposal involves the recommendation of a two-track libel regime. The first track in this new regime would comprise a much-simplified process, and could be administered by an appropriately designed self- or statutory media regulator. The overwhelming majority of cases would be addressed by this route. The primary remedies available would be discursive in character, normally either a correction or retraction. Recoverable costs would be limited. The second track would be limited to aspects of the most serious and/or most damaging libels. Those aspects of cases referred out to track two would continue to be heard in the High Court.
‘Something rotten in the state of English libel law?: a rejoinder to the clamour for reform of defamation’, Communications Law, 16.1 (2011), 6-19,
This article examines the debate concerning English libel law and the calls for reform particularly by those seeking greater freedom of expression. It suggests that the debate has been dominated by the one-sided perspective of the print media, observes the existing state of the law and highlights those criticisms of existing law that in the authors' view are: (1) based on errors or misunderstandings; (2) based on misjudgements; and (3) have some substance and are worthy of further consideration. Identifies those areas of libel law which do not warrant reform and those areas which should undergo constructive revision including the costs of proceedings.
Media Contact Areas
I would be happy to talk with the media on the law of defamation, misuse of private information and tort law more generally.