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In Memoriam: University Professor Stephen Waddams

Stephen Waddams

It is with immense sadness that the Faculty of Law announces the passing of our colleague, Stephen Waddams (BA TRIN 1963, LLB 1967), on May 27, 2023. 

An internationally recognized scholar of contract law and legal history, Professor Waddams studied law at Cambridge University after completing his BA at the University of Toronto. He returned to U of T for his LLB and then earned a Master of Laws (LLM) and Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) at the University of Michigan. He joined the Faculty of Law in 1968.

Throughout his career, he strongly supported scholarly research in all fields of law and played a major role in making the Faculty of Law a vibrant research institution. Over the years, he taught many of his future colleagues who appreciated his continued willingness to discuss and share ideas. He will be greatly missed.

Professor Waddams was a true giant in his field. He is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading legal scholars. In 2005, he was appointed to the rank of University Professor, which “recognizes unusual scholarly achievement and pre-eminence in a particular field of knowledge,” a distinction granted to no more than two per cent of U of T’s tenured faculty.

Professor Waddams served as graduate coordinator from 1976 to 1987; held the inaugural Albert Abel Chair in 1994; and the Goodman/Schipper Chair from 2000 to 2020. He was a visiting senior research fellow, Jesus College, Oxford; visiting senior lecturer, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; and visiting fellow, All Souls College, Oxford. He was a fellow of Trinity College, and a senior fellow of Massey College, both at U of T. He was selected Herbert Smith Freehills Visitor to Cambridge University in 2017.

He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) in 1988 and was awarded the Canadian Association of Law Teachers/Law Reform Commission of Canada Award for Outstanding Contribution to Legal Research and Law Reform the following year. He received an award from U of T student organizations for excellence in teaching in 1990 and was awarded the David W. Mundell Medal for contributions to Law and Letters in 1996. In addition to a Killam Research Fellowship he was awarded in 1999, he received several grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada (SSHRC), most recently an Insight Grant (2020-2023) for the study of “Continuity and change in private law: the equitable perspective.”

Professor Waddams is the author of nine books: Products Liability; The Law of Contracts; The Law of Damages; Introduction to the Study of Law; Law, Politics and the Church of England; Sexual Slander in Nineteenth-Century England; Dimensions of Private Law: Categories and Concepts in Anglo-American Legal Reasoning; Principle and Policy in Contract Law: Competing or Complementary Perspectives?; and Sanctity of Contracts in a Secular Age: Equity, Fairness and Enrichment, as well as numerous law review articles and notes. He was co-recipient of the Walter Owen Prize in 1987 for The Law of Damages and was a past editor of University of Toronto Law Journal.

In tribute to Professor Waddams’ lifetime of service to law and legal education, the Waddams family encourages donations to the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Contributions will be directed to a temporary fund while the Faculty works with the family to understand their wishes for a permanent endowment in Professor Waddams’ memory.


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