Ge­of­frey Fred­er­ick Woodroffe

Well known, highly re­spected aca­demic con­sumer lawyer, lec­turer and au­thor

The Scotsman - - Obituaries -

Ge­of­frey Fred­er­ick Woodroffe, aca­demic con­sumer lawyer. Born: 21 De­cem­ber 1934. Died: 5 July 2018, aged 83

Ge­of­frey Woodroffe was one of the best known and most highly re­spected aca­demic con­sumer lawyers in the United King­dom.

From Bec Gram­mar School, Lon­don, he went to St John’s Col­lege, Cam­bridge, where he read clas­sics and law. He then qual­i­fied as a so­lic­i­tor and joined the Col­lege of Law where he was found­ing Prin­ci­pal of its Col­lege in Ch­ester.

He joined Brunel Univer­sity in 1976 and taught there un­til 2005, found­ing in 1982 the Cen­tre for Con­sumer and Com­mer­cial Law Re­search, of which he be­came Di­rec­tor and Pro­fes­sor of Con­sumer Law. He was revered by col­leagues and stu­dents.

Woodroffe made very sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the de­vel­op­ment of con­sumer law at both na­tional and EU lev­els. At the na­tional level he played a key role in the pas­sage of the Sup­ply of Goods and Ser­vices Act 1982. As un­paid con­sul­tant to the Na­tional Con­sumer Coun­cil and the Con­sumers’ As­so­ci­a­tion he drafted the Pri­vate Mem­ber’s Bill that formed the ba­sis of Part II of the Act, deal­ing with con­tracts for ser­vices.

It is a trib­ute to his work that these pro­vi­sions have been car­ried for­ward al­most un­changed into the Con­sumer Rights Act 2015, Chap­ter 4. He also did sub­stan­tial pieces of work for what was then the DTI’S Con­sumer and Com­pe­ti­tion Pol­icy Direc­torate.

These in­cluded a com­par­a­tive study of the laws of nine over­seas ju­ris­dic­tions, which un­der­lay the DTI’S Com­par­a­tive Re­port on Con­sumer Pol­icy Regimes (2003); and help­ing with its Con­sumer Codes and Ap­provals Scheme (2008).

At what was then the Euro­pean Com­mu­ni­ties level, he was one of a team of four ex­perts ap­pointed to draft what be­came the Direc­tive of Gen­eral Prod­uct Safety (2001/95/EC).

In ad­di­tion, he was con­sulted by sev­eral other gov­ern­ments, in­clud­ing those of Brazil and France. His rep­u­ta­tion was truly in­ter­na­tional.

Woodroffe was not only in­volved in law re­form. He was ap­pointed as a mem­ber of the Na­tional Con­sumer Coun­cil in 1995, and was reap­pointed in 1998-2001. From 1994 un­til 2002 he acted as the Fu­neral Om­buds­man; and he served as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of con­sumers on the com­mit­tees of the Fi­nance and Leas­ing As­so­ci­a­tion. He was par­tic­u­larly con­cerned with over­sight of the FLA’S Lend­ing Code.

Pro­fes­sor Hugh Beale adds: I knew Woodroffe through meet­ing at aca­demic con­fer­ences for many years, but came to ap­pre­ci­ate him most when I was asked by the Bri­tish Coun­cil to set up a small group of English lawyers to ad­vise the Hun­gar­ian Min­istry of Jus­tice on re­form of the Hun­gar­ian Civil Code and con­sumer leg­is­la­tion (Pol­icy Is­sues in Le­gal De­vel­op­ment, un­der the aus­pices of the Bri­tish-hun­gar­ian Joint Aca­demic Re­search Pro­gramme, 19992002). The project took the form of a se­ries of meet­ings with se­nior Hun­gar­ian aca­demics who were part of the com­mit­tee es­tab­lished to pro­pose re­forms; they in­cluded Pro­fes­sor Ferenc Madl (then Pro­fes­sor at Eötvös Loránd School of Law in Bu­dapest; for­merly a min­is­ter un­der the first demo­cratic gov­ern­ment and later Pres­i­dent of the Re­pub­lic of Hun­gary); Pro­fes­sor La­jos Vékás (also of Eötvös Loránd School of Law and Chair of the Civil Code re­form com­mit­tee) and Pro­fes­sor At­tila Har­mathy (a dis­tin­guished Civil Lawyer, pre­vi­ously Dean of Eötvös Loránd School of Law and for­merly Vice-pres­i­dent of the Hun­gar­ian Academy of Sciences; in 1999 a judge of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court).

The task of the English team was to ex­plain how var­i­ous is­sues were dealt with in English law and what lessons the Hun­gar­i­ans might learn from the English ex­pe­ri­ence as they made pro­pos­als to re­form their law to meet the de­mands of a grow­ing, but not yet fully de­vel­oped, mar­ket econ­omy.

Woodroffe was an ob­vi­ous choice for the English team and he proved to be in­valu­able. Their Hun­gar­ian col­leagues ap­pre­ci­ated his wis­dom, and also the clar­ity and openness of his pre­sen­ta­tions, very much.

Woodroffe was par­tic­u­larly skill­ful at giv­ing clear guid­ance on what might or might not work with­out in any way dic­tat­ing what should or should not be done -‐ some­thing to which the Hun­gar­i­ans would not have taken kindly!

Over­all, Woodroffe made an ex­cep­tional con­tri­bu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of con­sumer law in the UK, across the EU and in var­i­ous coun­tries in­side and out­side the EU; he was a highly re­spected au­thor with an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion; and through his var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties he con­trib­uted di­rectly to the im­prove­ment of the con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence.

His book, Woodroffe and Lowe on Con­sumer Law and Prac­tice (now in its 10th edi­tion, 2016; Woodroffe was for long the prin­ci­pal au­thor) is highly re­garded and is the first source to which I turn for in­for­ma­tion about con­sumer law is­sues. He pub­lished many in­flu­en­tial ar­ti­cles and book chap­ters.

He was an ex­cel­lent lec­turer and teacher, us­ing anec­dotes which his stu­dents re­mem­bered years later as il­lus­trat­ing the rel­e­vant point of law – a tech­nique he also used in his writ­ing.

In 2000 Ge­of­frey was a speaker at a Con­fer­ence in Lis­bon where he met Rose­mary Colquhoun, a Scot­tish So­lic­i­tor who was one of the del­e­gates. They mar­ried later that year and lived for more than sev­en­teen years very hap­pily in Ed­in­burgh, with homes too in Farn­ham in Sur­rey and Mont­pel­lier in the south of France, Ge­of­frey do­ing his best to ad­just to the Scot­tish weather, learn­ing to en­joy Scot­tish coun­try danc­ing and wel­comed by a wide cir­cle of friends.

In ad­di­tion to Rose­mary, he is sur­vived by three chil­dren from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage, two sons, Jonathan and Guy and a daugh­ter, Sarah,and by six grand­chil­dren. CON­TRIB­UTED The Scots­man wel­comes obit­u­ar­ies and ap­pre­ci­a­tions from con­trib­u­tors as well as sug­ges­tions of pos­si­ble obit­u­ary sub­jects.

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The Scots­man, Level 7, Or­chard Brae House, 30 Queens­ferry Road, Ed­in­burgh EH4 2HS;

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“He was an ex­cel­lent lec­turer and teacher, us­ing anec­dotes which his stu­dents re­mem­bered years later”


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