The primary focus of Hugh Beale's research is contract law. His work encompasses both English law (he is the general editor of a textbook on contracts that is much used by practioners in England, and edits a collection of cases and materials for students) and European contract law, which is currently in development. Beale also researches consumer law. Previously he was a member of the Commission on European Contract Law (also known as the Lando Commission) and the Study Group on a European Civil Code. In addition, he was closely involved in the production of the Draft Common Frame of Reference on behalf of the European Commission.
Since 1987 Beale has been a professor at the University of Warwick. Before this, he was employed at the University of Bristol, the University College of Wales and the University of Connecticut. From 2000 to 2007 Beale held the post of Law Commissioner for England and Wales, with responsibility for the Commercial and Common Law Team. In 2004 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy. Two years prior to this, Beale was appointed Honorary Queen's Counsel.