Prof. Mark James

Associate Fellow

  • Department:
    Associate Fellows
  • Main fields of interest: International Sports Law


Mark is Professor of Sports Law and Director of Research in the Manchester Law School at Manchester Metropolitan University. He is one of the UK’s leading experts on sports law and has a particular interest in Olympic law. He was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal in January 2023 and is on the Advisory Panel to the Independent Football Ombudsman.

Mark read law at the University of Leeds (graduating in 1992), qualified as a barrister in 1994, and was awarded his PhD by Anglia Ruskin University in 2001 for his study on how consent operates as a defence to criminal assault in contact sports. His first appointment at Manchester Metropolitan University was in 1997 to lecture in criminal law and sports law and to develop its innovative MA (Sport and the Law). In 2006, Mark moved to the University of Salford to help establish the newly created Salford Law School. During his time there, he was appointed Reader in Law, Associate Head (Research), Director of the Salford Centre of Legal Research and served two years as Head of School. From 2013 to 2015, he was Director of REF Strategy at Northumbria Law School, from where he returned to Manchester Met to take up the position of Director of Research in the Law School.

Over the course of his career, Mark has written extensively on the interaction between sport and the law, in particular, the use of the criminal law and torts to regulate the conduct of athletes and spectators. His work includes definitive works on the operation of the law of consent in cases of criminal assault in sport and the ways that players can secure compensation for the injuries caused to them, and a series of papers with Prof Geoff Pearson of the University of Manchester on the legality of using Football Banning Orders to punish football spectators.

More recently, his focus has been on two distinct areas of research with Prof Guy Osborn of Westminster University: the regulation of the secondary ticket market, or ticket touting/scalping, and the regulatory framework for the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games. His work on ticket touting examines the different meanings of a ticket, its legal purpose, and how these are changing in the switch to digital and e-tickets. His research on Olympic law grew from this work as ticket touting was criminalised by specific legislation for the London 2012 Olympic Games. From there, he has examined the evolution of the IOC’s requirements of host cities, including the regulation of ambush marketing, and whether the Olympic Charter is compliant with national, international and transnational human rights requirements. His most recent publications examine the compatibility of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter with the freedom of speech.

Mark will work closely with Dr Antoine Duval and Dr Daniela Heerdt on events and academic projects of the Asser International Sports Law Centre and act as a link between the Asser Institute and Manchester Law School. Many of the researchers in Manchester are working on projects that are aimed at ‘Rethinking public interests in international and European law,’ including in the fields of food security, environmental crimes, corporate crimes and whistleblowing, international human rights, and the operation of the International Criminal Court.


Selected publications


Olympic Law: Culture, Values, Tensions with Prof Guy Osborn (forthcoming 2023, Routledge)

Sports Law (3rd edition, 2017, Palgrave Macmillan)


Article and book chapters

‘Civil Liability Arising out of Participation in Sport’ and ‘Criminal Liability Arising out of Participation in Sport’ in A Lewis and J Taylor (Eds), Sport: Law and Practice (4th edition, 2021, Bloomsbury Professional Publishing) pp. 1849-1928

30 Years of Hurt: The Evolution of Civil Preventive Orders, Hybrid Law, and the Emergence of the Super-Football Banning Order’ [2018] 1 Public Law pp. 44-61

‘The influence of European legal culture on the evolution of lex Olympica and Olympic Law’ in Lindholm, J, Duval, A and Kruger, A (Eds) The Europeanization of Lex Sportiva (forthcoming 2023, Hart Publishing)

‘The Rise of Athlete Activism: challenging the legitimacy of Rule 50 to restrict athletes’ freedom of expression’ in Boillet, V, Weerts, S and Ziegler, A (Eds), Human Rights and Sports (forthcoming 2023, Routledge)

Pliant Bodies: Generic event laws and the normalisation of the exceptional. (2019 Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Journal 4

The Olympics, transnational law and legal transplants: The International Olympic Committee, ambush marketing and ticket touting.’ (2016) 36(1) Legal Studies pp. 93-110

‘The Olympic Laws and The Tensions and Contradictions of Promoting and Preserving the Olympic Ideal.’ In Girginov, V. (ed.) Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: Vol. 1 Making the Games. (2013, Routledge) pp. 74-86

London 2012 and the Impact of the UK's Olympic and Paralympic Legislation: Protecting Commerce or Preserving Culture?’ (2011) 74(3) Modern Law Review pp. 410-429