Joëlle Godard, 1956-2008

July 31, 2008

The University of Edinburgh lowered the flags on its main buildings to mark the funeral of comparative law expert Joelle Godard, who died following a sudden illness, aged 51, on 15 June.

Colleague Sandra Eden, senior lecturer in Edinburgh's School of Law, said: "It's very, very sad for us as an institution and as individuals. It was a shock to everybody."

Ms Godard was born in 1956 in Algeria, then a French colony. During its war of independence, her family moved to Pau in France. She graduated in law from the University of Pau.

She travelled widely, including solo motorcycle trips, and met her future partner, solicitor Andrew Weatherley, while visiting Scotland, moving there in 1985. She was hired to teach French at the Law Society of Scotland, but unilaterally expanded the classes to teach the lawyers French law. This led to Edinburgh's offering her a part-time post in 1989, which became full time in 1999. She taught French law and comparative criminal procedure, focusing on comparisons between the French, English and Scottish systems. She was a leading member of the Franco-British Lawyers Society, and in 2004 was awarded the Palmes Academique by the French Government in recognition of her work.

Colleagues said that she brought not only Gallic expertise but also Gallic charm to the university. She was immensely hospitable, regularly inviting colleagues to her home for beautifully cooked meals. She had boundless energy, they said, and was a director of studies and student exchange co-ordinator within the law school as well as serving on several of its committees.

She was also a member of the British Council Scotland's advisory committee until 2006, and course director of the British Council-funded European Young Lawyers' Programme in Edinburgh.

Ms Eden said she was always prepared to help out, and was always seeking ways of improving courses and making them more interesting. A tribute in Scots Law News by Edinburgh law professor Hector L. MacQueen and lecturer Scott Wortley said Ms Godard's students held her in "exceptional affection".

Ms Eden said: "She wasn't the least self-centred, and her great generosity of spirit always extended to students. She was the most extraordinarily thoughtful and generous person. She remembered things about people and would bring you a video or a book she thought you would be interested in."

Last year, Ms Godard decided to study for a PhD with the University of Poitiers, and at a recent meeting with her supervisor was told she would be successful.

She is survived by Mr Weatherley and their two daughters.

olga.wojtas@tsleducation.com.

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