Lecturer in Criminal Law

Senior Tutor (UG)

LLB (hons), LLM (dist), PhD
View my full research profile

  • Tel: 0131 651 5537
  • Email: Chloe.Kennedy@ed.ac.uk
  • Office and Feedback Hours for current students:
    Tuesday, 2pm-3pm


Chloë joined the Law School in September 2013. Prior to this, Chloë completed a PhD and Masters degree in Law at the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelor of Laws at the Universities of Glasgow and Sydney. She also spent a year working as a Legal Assistant at the Scottish Law Commission. Her main research interests include criminal law, legal theory, legal history, and the relationship between these areas. She is particularly interested in intellectual and cultural legal history, focussing on the ways that prevailing ideas (especially philosophical and religious ideas) have shaped the law's development and continue to inform our contemporary assumptions. 


Along with Prof Sharon Cowan (Edinburgh) and Prof Vanessa Munro (Warwick), Chloë is currently running the Scottish Feminist Judgments Project: https://www.sfjp.law.ed.ac.uk 

Chloë welcomes proposals for the supervision of PhD students who would like to work on i) criminal law theory ii) criminal law / justice iii) legal history and the history of legal thought (especially 18th and 19th century) iv) law and religion v) law and gender



Dr Chloë Kennedy's Homepage at Edinburgh Law School

Current Research Interests

Criminal law, criminal law theory, legal history, intellectual history, legal theory, law and religion, law and philosophy, critical legal studies, law and gender.

Courses Taught

Crime and Punishment in Enlightenment Scotland (Honours) (Course Organiser)

Criminal Law (Ordinary) (Ordinary)

Criminal Law A: Harm Offence and Criminalisation (Honours) (Course Organiser)

PhD Supervisees

Jackson Allen  'On the compatability of reverse onus clauses and the presumption of innocence in English criminal Law'

Juan Pablo (JP) Fassnidge  'Moral Scepticism and Criminal Law: a Theory of Criminalisation'

Alice Krzanich  'Female servants in early 19th century Scotland: legal principles of the master-servant relationship as they applied to women in the period 1800-1850'


Chloe Kennedy, 'Questioning culpability: Lessons from soterial-legal history', (2018), Law and Humanities, pp 1-25
Abstract: Through specific, historical, interchanges and the more diffuse molding of our ‘Western’ social imaginary, the Judaic-Christian tradition has helped shape several of the criminal law’s culpability concepts, including guilt, blame and reconciliation. In doing so, it has contributed towards the inherent moral grammar of our criminal justice thinking. By considering perennial questions, such as the importance of consciousness and intentionality in determining culpability, and the importance of culpability within the architecture of criminal liability more broadly, this article argues that re-engaging with the religious underpinnings of these debates is important and worthwhile, particularly in an age marked by the desire to secularize the criminal law and to become ‘emancipated’ from religious thinking. It concludes by suggesting that this re-engagement yields important insights regarding the tensions that permeate our criminal justice practices and points towards ways in which these might potentially be reconciled.

Chloe Kennedy, 'Book review: The Preventive Turn in Criminal Law', (2018), Social and Legal Studies, Vol 27, pp 389-392
Abstract: The Preventive Turn in Criminal LawHenrique Carvalho, The Preventive Turn in Criminal Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017, pp. 207, ISBN 978-0-19-873785-8In the words of its author, The Preventive Turn in Criminal Law ‘is not a legal book’ (Preface, p. x). Rather, it aims to present a phenomenology of law that captures how legal concepts and ideas are imagined and instantiated under particular sociopolitical conditions within, broadly speaking, liberal modernity. This approach distinguishes Carvalho’s work from much of the current literature geared towards explaining and critiquing ‘pre-inchoate’ and ‘inchoate’ offences. While many scholars undertaking these enterprises fall back on the familiar, and ostensibly limiting, principles of harm, autonomy, desert and so on, Carvalho instead shows how the liberal tradition on which these principles are based is premised on the same logic that underpins the preventive turn itself. In so doing, he shows that the capacity of liberal criminal law scholarship to challenge or restrain the proliferation of prophylactic crimes is inevitably compromised.

Sharon Cowan, Chloe Kennedy, Vanessa Munro, 'Scottish Feminist Judgments Project ', (2017), SCOLAG Legal Journal, Vol 482

Chloe Kennedy, 'Declaring crimes ', (2017), Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Vol 37, pp 741-769
Abstract: For centuries, Scots criminal law has been renowned for its flexibility and adaptability. One striking example of this characteristic is the so-called declaratory power: the power of Scotland’s highest criminal court to declare conduct punishable in the absence of statutory authority or direct precedent. This article considers the origins and early use of the declaratory power in light of some of the questions that occupied key thinkers in Enlightenment Scotland to show how, in contrast to its contemporary opprobrium, the power might once have appeared unobjectionable. It then considers some more recent examples of judicial lawmaking in Scots criminal law and suggests that this nuanced historical understanding casts them in a potentially more favourable light. Beyond their relevance to Scots law, these observations resonate with more general debates about the requirements of legality, legal authority, the limits of judicial discretion and the relationship between laws and the community.

Chloe Kennedy, 'Immanence and transcendence: History's roles in normative legal theory', (2017), Jurisprudence, Vol 8, pp 557-579
Abstract: The fractious but potentially fruitful dialogue between legal history and legal theory has been the subject of much recent scholarly attention. Despite this, instances of meaningful engagement over the role of history in legal theorising remain scarce. This is particularly true in respect of normative theorising—the difficult but crucial tasks of critiquing and reforming law—where history is frequently considered to play a relativising role that threatens to destabilise strong evaluation. In this article, I argue that in order to advance the dialogue it is essential to look beyond disciplinary differences and instead focus on the divide between immanence and transcendence, which arises within and also between legal history and legal theory. Reorienting our attention in this way discloses important sources of dissonance but also points towards significant opportunities for cooperation; it is therefore an essential first step in the pursuit of meaningful dialogue, either critical or collaborative.

Chloe Kennedy, 'Nicola Lacey, In Search of Criminal Responsibility: Ideas, Interests, and Institutions ', (2017), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 21, pp 133-134

Chloe Kennedy, ''Ungovernable Feelings and Passions': Common Sense Philosophy and Mental State Defences in Nineteenth Century Scotland', (2016), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 20, pp 285-311
Abstract: During the nineteenth century, changing conceptions of mental disorder had profound implications for the way that criminal responsibility was conceived. As medical writers and practitioners increasingly drew attention to the complexities of insanity, the grounds on which mentally abnormal offenders could be excused began to seem unduly restrictive. By way of a contribution to our understanding of this development, this article examines how the growing disparity unfolded in Scotland. I argue that the requirements of the insanity defence, as set out within judicial directions, reflect core facets of Scottish Common Sense philosophical thought, including Thomas Reid’s view of human agency and understanding of ‘common sense’. Building on this contention, I suggest that Scottish Common Sense philosophy played an important role in the development of Scottish mental state defences more broadly, and can provide an original interpretation of the way the doctrines of provocation and diminished responsibility changed during this era.

Chloe Kennedy, 'Review of S L Blumenthal Law and the Modern Mind: Consciousness and Responsibility in American Legal Culture ', (2016), Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

Chloe Kennedy, 'Lindsay Farmer: Making the Modern Criminal Law: Criminalization and Civil Order ', (2016), Criminal Law and Philosophy

Ilona Cairns, Liz Campbell, James Chalmers, Sarah Christie, Andrew Cornford, Sharon Cowan, Antony Duff, Peter Duff, Sarah Elliston, Lindsay Farmer, Pamela Ferguson, Chloe Kennedy, Fiona Leverick, Claire McDiarmid, G Maher, Sandra Marshall, Donald Nicolson, Joanne Ramsay, Elizabeth Shaw, Andrew Tickell, Shanti Williamson, 'A Troubling Lack of Clarity in Scots Law Regarding Assisted Suicide ', (2015), Herald (Glasgow)

Chloe Kennedy, 'Arlie Loughnan, Manifest Madness: Mental Incapacity in the Criminal Law ', (2014), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 18, pp 158-60

Chloe Kennedy, 'Criminal Law and Religion in Post-Reformation Scotland ', (2012), Edinburgh Law Review, Vol 16, pp 178-97
Abstract: This article considers the connection between religious ideology and the criminal law in post-Reformation Scotland. It shows how the influence of religious practice and doctrine rendered the substance and application of the criminal law peculiarly moralistic, and had a similar effect on the attribution of criminal responsibility.


Chloe Kennedy, Lindsay Farmer, 'Wrongs ' in Peter Goodrich (ed.) A Cultural History of Law in the Early Modern Age (Bloomsbury Academic 2016)

Working Papers

Chloe Kennedy, 'Sex, Identity and Recognition: Re-thinking 'Rape by Deception'' 2019

Chloe Kennedy, Sharon Cowan, Vanessa Munro, 'Feminist Judging: From Margin to Centre' 2018

Chloe Kennedy, 'Criminal Law and Religion in Post-Reformation Scotland ' 2012
Abstract: This article considers the connection between religious ideology and the criminal law in post-Reformation Scotland. It shows how the influence of religious practice and doctrine rendered the substance and application of the criminal law peculiarly moralistic, and had a similar effect on the attribution of criminal responsibility.