Professor Dennis Baker

Job: Professor in Criminal Law

Faculty: Business and Law

School/department: Leicester De Montfort Law School

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: 7348




Personal profile

Professor Dennis J. Baker (M.A., Ph.D. Cambridge), F.R.S.A. is a criminal law expert.  

Prior to taking up his current post, Professor Baker served as the Head/Dean of the Law School and Professor of Criminal Law and Procedure, University of Surrey. At the University of Surrey he established the world-leading Surrey Centre for Law and Philosophy and the China Law Centre and hired 10 leading academics to staff those centres.  

Before that, Professor Baker spent close to a decade at the School of Law, King’s College London where he was Reader in Criminal Law and Director of LL.B. Admissions. Professor Baker’s first teaching experience was at the University of Cambridge where he gave supervisions for a number of colleges.  

Professor Baker has authored 6,000 pages in five books and dozens of peer reviewed journal articles. His reform-focused research has had significant impact beyond academe and in the courts. It has been influential in decisions before the Supreme Court of the United States; the Supreme Court of United Kingdom; the Supreme Court of Canada; the High Court of Australia; the Supreme Court of New Zealand; the Supreme Court of Singapore; the Final Court of Appeal of Hong Kong;  the Court of Appeal England and Wales; the Federal Court of Canada; the Court of Appeal of New Zealand; the Manitoba Court of Appeal; the British Columbia Court of Appeal; the Alberta Court of Appeal and Appeal Court, and the High Court of Justiciary for Scotland.  

His papers have also been quoted in briefs to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and the United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit. His research was influential before Law Commissions and the Crown Prosecution Service including in the paper Alternative Approaches to Abortion Law: Ministerial Briefing Paper [2018] NZLCMBP 4; NZLC MB4, (New Zealand Law Commission - Ministerial Briefing Papers) and the Report on Self-Defence from the Tasmania Law Reform Institute.

Research group affiliations

Criminal Law & Penal Theory

Publications and outputs

Solo authored books:

1. Dennis J. Baker, Reinterpreting Criminal Complicity and Inchoate Participation Offences, (London: Routledge, 2016) 340 pages.

2. Dennis J. Baker, Glanville Williams: Textbook of Criminal Law, (London: 4th edn., Sweet & Maxwell, 2015) (1720 pages).

3. Dennis J. Baker, The Right Not to be Criminalized: Demarcating Criminal Law’s Authority, (London: Ashgate Applied Legal Philosophy Series, 2011 (ISBN 978-1-4094-2765-0.)). (308-pages). (Now in paperback as well as hardback with a Chinese translated edition coming out in 2018 with Peking University Press.) (Reviewed by Professor Harding in the Cambrian Law Review, (2011) Vol. 42, pp. 167-184.

4. Dennis J. Baker, Glanville Williams: Textbook of Criminal Law, (London: 3rd edn., Sweet & Maxwell, 2012 (ISBN: 9780414046139). (1504-pages). (Reviewed by Michael Jefferson, in Criminal Law Review, 2014, 2, 165-167).

Edited book:

5. Dennis J. Baker & Jeremy Horder (editors) The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013 (ISBN: 9781107020474). Approx. 358 pages). Reviewed by Professor G.R. Sullivan: See G. R. Sullivan, “Professing the Criminal Law,” (2014) 12 Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law 267-286 (16 pages)

Journal Articles United States:

Dennis J. Baker, “Conceptualizing Inchoate Complicity: The Normative and Doctrinal Case for Lessor Offenses as an Alternative to Complicity Liability,” (2016) 25(1) Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 504-588.

Dennis J. Baker, “Reinterpreting the Mental Element in Criminal Complicity: Change of Normative Position Theory Cannot Rationalize the Current Law,” (2016) 40 Law & Psychology Review 121-296.

Dennis J. Baker, “Mutual Combat Complicity, Transferred Intention/Defences and the Exempt Party Defence,” (2016) 37 University of La Verne Law Review 205-284.

Dennis J. Baker, “Should Unnecessary Harmful Nontherapeutic Cosmetic Surgery be Criminalised?” (2014) 17(4) New Criminal Law Review 587-630.

Dennis J. Baker, ‘The Moral Limits of Criminalizing Remote Harms,’ (2007) 10(3) Buffalo Criminal Law Review 371-391.

Dennis J. Baker, ‘Constitutionalizing the Harm Principle,’ (2008) 27(2) Criminal Justice Ethics 3-28.

Dennis J. Baker, ‘Collective Criminalization and the Constitutional Right to Endanger Others,’ (2009) 28(2) Criminal Justice Ethics 168-200.

Dennis J. Baker, ‘The Moral Limits of Consent as a Defence in the Criminal Law,’ (2009) 12(1) Buffalo Criminal Law Review 93-121.

Dennis J. Baker, “Complicity, Proportionality and the Serious Crime Act” (2011) 14(3) Buffalo Criminal Law Review 403-426.

Dennis J. Baker & Lucy X. Zhao, “The Normativity of Using Prison to Control Hate Speech: The Hollowness of Waldron’s Harm Theory,” (2013) 16(4) New Criminal Law Review 621-656.

Dennis J. Baker & Lucy X. Zhao, “Responsibility Links, Fair Labelling and Proportionality in China: Comparing China’s Criminal Law Theory and Doctrine,” (2009) 14(2) UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs 274-334.

Journal Articles Canada:

Dennis J. Baker, “The Impossibility of a Critically Objective Criminal Law,” (2011) 56(2) McGill L. J. 349-394. Journal Articles Hong Kong Dennis J. Baker, “The Doctrinal and Normative Vacuity of Hong Kong’s Joint Enterprise Doctrine,” [2017] Hong Kong Law Journal (forthcoming). Journal Articles Australia:

Dennis J. Baker, ‘The Harm Principle vs. Kantian Criteria for Ensuring Fair, Principled and Just Criminalisation,’ (2008) 33 Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 66-99.

Dennis J. Baker, ‘Punishment Without A Crime: Is Preventive Detention Reconcilable with Justice?’ (2009) 34 Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy 120-150.

Dennis J. Baker, ‘Rethinking Consensual Harm Doing,’ (2008) 12 UWS Law Review 21-39. Journal Articles Singapore:

Dennis J. Baker, ‘The Sense and Nonsense of Criminalising Transfers of Obscene Materials,’ (2008) 26 Singapore Law Review 126-155.

Journal Articles in China:

Dennis J. Baker, “The Doctrinal and Normative Vacuity of Hong Kong’s Joint Enterprise Doctrine,” [2017] Hong Kong Law Journal

Dennis J. Baker, 责任关系、罪刑相应及相当性原则——中国刑法理论与原则之比较研究

The Concept of Cybercrime: Applying The General Part to Limit Offending via Cyber Means (2018) Internet Journal 1.

Journal Articles United Kingdom:

Dennis J. Baker, “Jogee: Jury Directions and the Manslaughter Alternative” [2017] Criminal Law Review 33.

Dennis J. Baker, “Unlawfulness’s Doctrinal and Normative Irrelevance to Complicity Liability: A Reply to Simester,” (2017) 81(4) J Crim. L. (forthcoming).

Dennis J. Baker, “Lesser Included Offences, Alternative Offences and Accessorial Liability” (2016) 80(3) Journal of Criminal Law 1)

Dennis J. Baker, “Liability for Encouraging One’s Own Murder, Victims and Other Exempt Parties,” (2012) 23(3) King’s Law Journal 257–285.

Dennis J. Baker, ‘A Critical Evaluation of the Historical and Contemporary Justifications for Criminalising Begging,’ (2009) 73(3) Journal of Criminal Law 212-240.

Dennis J. Baker, “Omissions Liability for Homicide Offences: Reconciling R. v. Kennedy (No. 2) with R. v. Evans,” (2010) 74(4) Journal of Criminal Law 310-320.

Dennis J. Baker & Lucy X. Zhao, ‘Contributory Qualifying and Non-Qualifying Triggers in the Loss of Control Defence: A Wrong Turn on Sexual Infidelity,’ (2012) 76 Journal of Criminal Law 254-275.

Dennis J. Baker & Lucy X. Zhao, ‘The Criminality of Fines Imposed by Private Car Park Companies,’ (2012) 176 Justice of the Peace Journal 297.

Research interests/expertise

Criminal Law & Penal Theory

Areas of teaching

Criminal Law & Penal Theory


MA, PhD. Cambridge

Honours and awards

F.R.S.A.; Visiting Professor Wuhan Law School; Visiting Professor Chinese University of Political Science and Law; Visiting Professor Northeast Normal University; and Visiting Professor Zhejiang Normal University.

Case studies

Baker's research on joint enterprise complicity influenced significantly the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision on joint enterprise in R. v Jogee and this is acknowledged in a foreword by Lord Toulson in his monograph entitled: Reinterpreting Complicity and Inchoate Participation Offences.

Lord Toulson writes: “I had a copy of the manuscript of this book when examining the issues raised in R v Jogee [2016] UKSC 8, and it was helpful to me. Professor Baker’s arguments on the point, which was of central importance in that case, that foresight is evidence from which intention may be inferred, but no more than evidence, and that secondary liability for a criminal offence requires intent to encourage or assist its perpetration, were well researched and cogent. The same applies to his writing about the need for there to be actual assistance or encouragement, and about the nature of intent, which may be conditional. …”

More recently the New Zealand Court of Appeal adopted Baker's argument that indirect intention exists an independent fault element and is not simply evidence of direct intention.

In the Court of Appeal of New Zealand before French, Miller and Winkelmann J.J. with Winkelman delivering the judgment of the Court, it was said: “[F]oresight of virtually certain consequences can itself be evidence of direct intention.

By this we mean that evidence the defendant foresaw an outcome to some high level of certainty is evidence from which it can be inferred that the person directly intended that outcome.

As Dennis J. Baker, Textbook of Criminal Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 2015) says: ‘The grey area is where it can be shown that the defendant at the very least foresaw the consequence as a virtual certainty; but it is not clear whether she directly intended the consequence. In this situation, the jury can use the evidence that [the defendant] foresaw the consequence as virtually certain to infer either direct or indirect intention.’ We are satisfied that such an inference is appropriate in this case. Mr Jury’s knowledge that the tobacco would be used for manufacture, even if that was not an objective Mr Jury wanted or desired for its own sake, is evidence available to support an inference that this consequence was directly intended by him.”

Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service v. Jury [2017] N.Z.C.A. 356 at paras. 86-87.

Coupled with the above, Baker has been quoted by the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Ryan [2013] SCC 3 at paragraphs 30; 52; 79 et passim.

He is also quoted in R v Willis (TAW), 2016 MBCA 113 (Court of Appeal — Manitoba); R v Meer, 2015 ABCA 340 (Court of Appeal — Alberta).

His remote harms paper was cited in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. DECOSTER (2015) WL 4504795 (C.A.8) (Appellate Brief) United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

His monograph on complicity was cited in HKSAR v Chan Kam Shing [2016] HKEC 2715 (Hong Kong, Final Court of Appeal).

His work on omissions is cited by the full court of the High Court of Australia in Burns v. The Queen (2011) 205 A. Crim. R. 240.

In addition, his work has been cited by the Supreme Court of New Zealand in Cullen v The Queen [2015] NZSC 73 and also the New Zealand Court of Appeal in Chief Executive of the New Zealand Customs Service v Jury [2017] NZCA 356 (18 August 2017); Yu v New Zealand Customs Service [2016] NZCA 140; R. v. Dixon [2014] NZCA 329 and in Stepanicic v R [2015] NZCA 35.

In England and Wales he has been cited in Britain in Bauer v DPP [2013] 1 W.L.R. 3617 and in Loake v CPS [2017] EWHC 2855 where Lord Justice Irwin said: “In virtually every case where the defendant proves that he did not know the nature and quality of his act at the time he performed it, then he will not be criminally responsible irrespective of the first limb of the M’Naghten test, because he will lack the mens rea for the alleged offence.

The woman who squeezes her husband's throat believing she is strangling a deadly snake does not have the mens rea for murder, because she lacks the necessary intention to kill or cause really serious harm: Dennis J. Baker, Textbook of Criminal Law (4th Edn by Dennis J. Baker), para 30-016.”

His work on self-defence is quoted repeatedly by the Tasmania Law Reform Institute in its Review of the Law Relating to Self-defence, (ISSUES PAPER NO. 20 NOVEMBER 2014).

His work on homicide is quoted in the Public inquiry into the death of Jean Steven Boucher in Canada in the Report to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Pubic Fatality Inquiry.

Baker has also given evidence in the Hong Kong Legislative Council to the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services, with respect to prosecution policy and procedure arising from the case of Mr. Chung Yit-tin (archived as Legislative Council Paper No. CB(2)1357/07-08(04).

In 2016, Baker gave expert evidence to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ Working Party on Cosmetic Procedures: Ethical Issues.