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Professor Lei Chen

Chair in Chinese Law

LLB (Hons) (London) LLB (ECUPL) LLM (Aberdeen) LLD (Stellenbosch)

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Chair in Chinese Law in the Durham Law School  


Professor Lei CHEN (PhD) is Chair in Chinese Law and Co-Director of Centre for Chinese Law and Policy at Durham Law School, Durham University, U.K. He is an Adjunct Professor at the School of Law, the City University of Hong Kong and Wenlan Visiting Chair at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan. Professor Chen has also been a Visiting Scholar/Professor at Harvard, Columbia, Emory, Max-Planck Institute for Comparative Private Law, K.U. Leuven, Université Catholique de Lyon, Maastricht University, Chuo University Japan, Fundação Getulio Vargas (F.G.V., Brazil), National University of Singapore, Renmin University of China, Sun Yat-sen University and the University of Hawaii. He has been the inaugural International Visiting Professor at Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy, Singapore Management University.

Professor Chen's research areas are property law, contract law, commercial law, and international commercial dispute resolution. He has two L.L.B. degrees (from civil and common law backgrounds). He has significant successes in applying for research grants and has been awarded General Research Funds (G.R.F.) three times from Hong Kong Research Grant Committee as a Principal Investigator. Professor Chen has published seven books (authored and edited) and many leading journal articles. He sits on the editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals published by Oxford University Press, Hart, Springer, and Brill.


He has been a Fellow of the European Law Institute since 2013. Given his academic stature, Professor Chen has been a member of the Law Panel of Research Assessment Exercise (R.A.E.) 2020 by the Research Grant Committee of the Hong Kong Government. In 2021, he was elected as Titular Member of the International Academy of Comparative Law. (One of the only 150 titular members in the world when he was elected) 


Professor Chen is on the panel of arbitrators and mediators in many leading arbitration institutions such as HKIAC, SCIA, KCAB, CIETAC, B.A.C., SHIAC, AIAC, C.A.A. and THAC etc. He is also a fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Arbitrators. Apart from participating in international academic networks, he advises various international organizations and governments and frequently provides expert opinions across multiple arbitration institutions and courts in Hong Kong, P.C.A. (Hague), Washington DC, Geneva, Singapore and England. Professor Chen is an expert member of iGLIP on O.D.R. under the Department of Justice, Hong Kong S.A.R. Government, collaborating with UNCITRAL.

Professor Chen has supervised 10 PhD, J.S.D., and MPhil (research postgraduate) students in property, contract, civil procedure, company and commercial arbitration. He has also served as an external PhD examiner/panel member in Monash University, Leiden University, Maastricht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Maastricht University, and UNSW.

Professor Chen has a proven track record in promoting international activities and managing external relations, including alumni relations. When he was Deputy Dean at the City University of Hong Kong overseeing external links, City University of Hong Kong Law School was ranked 25th and 31st in the world by the Times Higher Education (Law Subject Ranking) in 2019 and 2020, respectively. The City University of Hong Kong was also ranked No. 1 in the world in 2019 in international outlook and No.1 in industry income in Asia. He has been instrumental to the success of a Chinese judge training programme in collaboration with the National Judge College, the Supreme People's Court of P.R.C. Professor Chen has served as an external examiner, a chair or member of the programme review panel in many leading law schools. 

Professor Chen shoulders the following administrative responsibilities:

Postgraduate Research programme (P.G.R.) Director (2021-22); Member of the School Management Committee; Co-Director of the Centre for Chinese Law and Policy; Member of the Institute of Commercial and Corporate Law.

Selected Grants
  1. Addressing Impediments or Hardship to Contract Performance: A Comparative Study of the Common Law in Hong Kong and Chinese Law, General Research Fund (GRF), Research Grant Committee (RGC), Hong Kong Government, Amount: HKD $512,904, July 2021, Lei CHEN (Co-I), Qiao Liu (PI), Ewan Mckendrick (Co-I)
  2. 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).
  3. 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) .
  4. 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) .
  5. Contract Law in China and Europe: A Comparative Approach, EU-China Research Grant, 2011 - 2014, Co-I Jan Smits (PI).
  6. 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) .
  7. 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).

Research interests

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

Research groups

  • Centre for Chinese Law and Policy
  • Institute of Commercial and Corporate Law

Esteem Indicators

  • 2021: Research Grant Committee Member of the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS):
  • 2021: Titular Member of the International Academy of Comparative Law/Académie internationale de droit comparé:
  • 2020: Law Panel Member of Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2020 Hong Kong:
  • 2014: Fellow of European Law Institute :


Authored book

  • Lei Chen (2022). Property Law in China. Cambridge University Press.
  • Lei Chen (2010). The Making of Chinese Condominium Law. Intersentia.

Chapter in book

  • Alexander Loke & Lei Chen, (2022). Transplanting Western legal norms into Chinese Contract Law: Linkages and Values. In Routledge.
  • Lei Chen (2012). Contextualizing Legal Transplant: China and Hong Kong. In Methods of Comparative Law,. P.G. Monateri Elgar Edward.
  • Lei Chen & Hao Wang (2020). Judicial Control over Arbitral Awards in Mainland China. In The Cambridge Handbook of Judicial Control of Arbitral Awards. Larry DiMatteo, Marta Infantino & Nathalie Potin Cambridge University Press. 208-223.
  • Lei Chen (2021). 中国商事仲裁司法审查的评估和展望. In 国际法前沿问题与教研的思考. 李伟芳 北京大学出版社 (Peking University Press). 28-46.
  • Lei Chen (2018). Changing Perceptions of Land Ownership in China: Between the Socialist Heritage and Liberal Market. In Socialist Law in Socialist East Asia. Pip Nicholson & (et al) Cambridge University Press. 383-404.
  • Lei Chen (2016). 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. Mindy Chen-Wishart, Alex Loke & Stefan Vogenauer Oxford University Press.
  • Mindy Chen-Wishart, Alexander Loke & Burton Ong (2015). The Availability of Specific Performance in Chinese Contract Law. In Remedies for Breach in Asia. Oxford University Press. 21-42.
  • Lei Chen (2013). The Legal and Institutional Analysis of Land Expropriation in China. In Resolving Land Disputes in East Asia. John Gillespie & Fu Hualing Cambridge University Press.

Edited book

  • Lei Chen, Jiangqiu Ge,, Jian He, Qiao Liu,, Zhicheng Wu, & and Bingwan Xiong (2021). The Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China: English Translation. Chinese and Comparative Law Series. Brill.
  • Lei Chen & Andre Janssen (2020). Dispute Resolution in China, Europe and World. Springer.
  • G Howells, C. Twigg-Flesner, H. Micklitz & L. Chen (2017). Comparative Consumer Sales Law. Routledge.
  • Larry DiMatteo & Lei Chen (2017). Chinese Contract Law Civil and Common Law Perspectives. Cambridge University Press.
  • Lei Chen & C.H. van Rhee (2012). Towards A Chinese Civil Code: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. Brill.

Journal Article

  • Lei Chen & Sebastien de Rey (2022). Non-Monetary Relief for Breach of Contract: A European Perspective on Chinese Contract Law. Asia Pacific Law Review 29(2).
  • Lei Chen (2022). Continuity and Change: Some Reflections on the Chinese Civil Code. Asia Pacific Law Review 29(2).
  • Chen, Lei, Liu, Zhuang & Tang, Yingmao (2021). Judicial Transparency as Judicial Centralization: Mass Publicity of Court Decisions in China. Journal of Contemporary China
  • Lei Chen; & Qiyu Wang (2021). Demystifying the Doctrine of Change of Circumstances under Chinese Law—A Comparative Perspective from Singapore and English Common Law. Journal of Business Law
  • Lei Chen & Zhuang Liu (2020). Does the Jury Enhance Public Trust in the Judiciary. Asia Pacific Law Review 28(2).
  • Lei Chen (2021). Consumer Protection Due to the Pandemic: Chinese Legal Responses. Journal of European Consumer and Market Law (EuCML) 2021(5): 218-228.
  • Chen, L & DiMatteo, L (2020). Inefficiency of Specific Performance as a Contractual Remedy in Chinese Courts: An Empirical and Normative Analysis. Northwestern Journal of International Law & Business 40(3): 275-332.
  • Geraint Howell & et al (2020). Consumer law and policy relating to change of circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Consumer Policy 43: pp 437-450.
  • L Chen, & J Wang (2019). Will Innovative Technology Result in Innovative Legal Frameworks? – Smart Contracts in China. European Review of Private Law 26(6): 921 – 942.
  • Lei Chen (2018). Debating Personality Rights Protection in China: From a European Perspective. European Review of Private Law 26 (1): pp. 16-38.
  • Kielsgard, M & Chen, L (2014). The Emergence of Private Property Law in China and Its Impact on Human Rights. Asian-Pacific Law and Policy Journal 15(1): 94-134.
  • Chen, L. & Kielsgard, M. D. (2014). Evolving Property Rights in China: Patterns and Dynamics of Condominium Governance. The Chinese Journal of Comparative Law 2(1): 21.
  • Lei Chen (2013). Land Registration, Property Rights, and Institutional Performance in China. Hong Kong Law Journal 44 (3): 841-864.
  • 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). The historical development of the Civil Law tradition in China: a private law perspective. Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis /Revue d'Histoire du Droit /The Legal History Review 78: pp 159-181.

Supervision students