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John Snape



Associate Professor


School of Law
University of Warwick
Tel: 00 44 24765 24165

Research Interests

My research and teaching areas are centred on public finance law and policy in their widest possible contexts. I am interested in:

- tax law and policy (especially corporate tax and commercial tax law and policy);

- the practice of tax law;

- the history of tax law ideas and tax philosophies more generally (especially in the context of the European Enlightenment and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries);

- the relationship between property law and public finance law;

- the law relating to public debt and deficit; and

- legal aspects of the fiscal relations between treaty organisations, governments and corporate groups, especially in the context of the European Union.

My most recent work has involved the analysis of tax law and policy under the present Conservative administration, as well as the implications of complexity in relation to tax law. I have also written recently about the philosophical history of tax law in the work of the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, David Hume. I have continued the Enlightenment theme and instituted a nineteenth century theme in two chapters for a new cultural history of law currently in preparation. I am working at present on a large-scale book project dealing with the role of corporate taxes in corporate transactions.

Some principal themes of my work are as follows: how ideas for tax reform are shaped by political calculation (a major theme of my 2011 book, The Political Economy of Corporation Tax); how political calculation both shapes, and is shaped by, legal considerations; the status of tax law as public law; the roles of thinkers such as Hugo Grotius, the Baron de Montesquieu and David Hume in helping to form the tax law philosophy of Adam Smith; how the ideas embraced and developed by Smith continue to shape tax law and policy in contemporary national, regional and international contexts; how public spending cuts, deficit reduction and tax reform relate to visions of government, of the state and of the capacity of states to attract investment capital through their legal systems; and how deep thinking about these and similar issues was received into European public consciousness over three centuries in works of high culture.

The focus of my work on the historical, cultural and philosophical contexts of public finance law is the latest stage in the development of my thinking in the area. With a background in legal practice, I began by writing about highly technical issues of tax law and, in the process, produced a text book on the topic (Snape J (1999) Tax Law: Learning Text, London: Blackstone). Out of this technical writing grew an interest in tax policy, especially its role in relation to regulation more generally. My initial work in this area focused on the use of economic instruments, especially environmental taxes, in environmental regulation (Snape J, de Souza J (2006) Environmental Taxation Law: Policy, Contexts and Practice, Aldershot: Ashgate). My more recent work has concentrated on the use of levies as a mode of financial regulation, specifically, the background to the introduction of the UK's bank levy (Snape J (2011) 'Tax and the City: the UK's proposals for a bank levy' in Managing Risk in the Financial System, 111 - 129, Editors: John Raymond LaBrosse, Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal, Dalvinder Singh, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar). My interest in tax policy lead me to make links between tax policy and other areas of personal academic interest. One result of this was my doctoral thesis (Public Law and Public Management: "Theory" and "Values" in Corporation Tax Reform (University of Birmingham, 2008)) that led to The Political Economy of Corporation Tax, in which I linked corporate tax policies to Early Modern and Enlightenment ideas on the nature of the state and its relationship with corporate commercial enterprise. Another, more recent, result, has been work-in-progress that seeks to analyse the constitution-building role of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century theatre works in shaping modern ideas of commercial society, of property rights, and the role of taxation in relation to each.

I am the convenor of the School's Wednesday Lunchtime Research Seminars and Public Lectures.

I am interested in hearing from potential doctoral research supervisees in areas related to those research areas mentioned above.


I hold an MA from the University of Oxford and a PhD from the University of Birmingham.

Though not now practising, I am a qualified solicitor with experience of corporate and commercial legal practice, and this experience continues to inform my research and teaching.

I currently teach, at undergraduate level, LA103 Property Relations and LA371 Corporate Tax Law, each in a way that gives some prominence to insights generated by the research interests mentioned above. At postgraduate level, I supervise dissertations undertaken by students on the School's taught LLM programmes, and I have co-supervised LLM dissertations by research.

I have previously had teaching interests in the areas of the Law of Trusts and Legal Skills, specifically mooting, the latter resulting in the mooting book jointly-written with my colleague, Professor Gary Watt (Snape J, Watt G (2010) How to Moot: A Student Guide to Mooting, 2nd edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press). At the University of Leeds, I taught an LLM Module on International Business Taxation and, at City University, I co-taught a module on International Tax as part of the International Business Law LLM course. At Nottingham Law School, The Nottingham Trent University, I taught on the Postgraduate Diploma in Law course and, over a number of years, had a significant involvement in the School's LLB by Distance Learning. The materials I originated for the tax law module on this course resulted in the Tax Law: Learning Text referred to above.


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