• Entry type: Person
  • Entry ID: AWE5919

Stapleton, Jane

  • Occupation Academic, Barrister, Lawyer, Teacher


Jane Stapleton was appointed Distinguished Professor of Law at the Australian National University, Canberra, in 2016.


Professor Jane Stapleton has had a stellar international career in legal academia.

In 2016, Stapleton, who had previously served as Research Professor in Law at the ANU College of Law, Australian National University, Canberra, since 1997, was appointed Distinguished Professor of Law at the University. The appointment followed her pre-election on 1 March 2016 as the 38th Master of Christ’s College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. She is due to take up the post of Master on 1 September 2016.

Stapleton is currently Ernest E. Smith Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law; a Statutory Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford; Honorary Bencher of Gray’s Inn; a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law; a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy; and Emeritus Fellow at Balliol College. She is also a barrister of the High Court and Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Stapleton’s first degrees were in science: she graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from the University of New South Wales in 1974 and then went to the University of Adelaide, where she gained a PhD in the field of physical organic chemistry in 1977. Realising in the chemistry laboratories in Oxford’s Lemsfield Road where she was undertaking post-doctoral research that she did not have a passion for science, she changed direction and entered the Australian National University, a mature-age LLB student. She went on to win the University Medal and Supreme Court Judges’ Prize in 1981 before studying at the University of Oxford, where she earned a DPhil in private law in 1984 and, in 2008, was awarded a Doctorate of Civil Law.

Following her graduation from the Australian National University, she worked as legal and senior legal officer in the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department before taking up a position as lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School. After a time, she went to Oxford, where she taught at Trinity College and Balliol College, before returning to teach at the ANU in 1997.

Widely published, her research interests include private law of obligations; liability and compensations systems; comparative law; and the philosophical foundations of the common law such as causation, duty and good faith. She has held a number of visiting appointments in many jurisdictions. In 2012, Stapleton became the first woman to be appointed Honorary Fellow at St John’s College, University of Cambridge.

Stapleton also has the distinction of being the only non-US recipient to have been presented with the Prosser Award (2013), bestowed by the Association of American Law Schools upon those “who have made an outstanding contribution to the world of tort law scholarship”. Additionally, she is the only non-US Council Member of the American Law Institute.

Professor Stapleton is married to the law academic Professor Peter Cane.


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