Robert Goff, Baron Goff of Chieveley
|The Right Honourable|
The Lord Goff of Chieveley
The Lord Goff of Chieveley when an appellate judge
|Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary|
1 October 1996 – 30 September 1998
|Preceded by||The Lord Keith of Kinkel|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Browne-Wilkinson|
|Lord of Appeal in Ordinary|
6 February 1986 – 30 September 1998
|Succeeded by||The Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough|
Robert Lionel Archibald Goff|
12 November 1926
Kinloch, Perthshire, Scotland
14 August 2016 (aged 89)|
|Alma mater||University of Oxford|
Early life and career
Goff was born and raised in Perthshire. From an early age he had a love of Scottish reeling, for which his mother acquainted him with the local farmers. His father, an Army Officer, planned a military career for the young Robert but that was not ultimately to be.
Educated at St Aubyn's School, Rottingdean and Eton College, he left in 1944 to spend the next four years in his father's regiment, the Scots Guards, where he grew a trademark military moustache. He went up to New College, Oxford after the war, where he took a first class honours degree in Jurisprudence.
In 1951 he was called to the Bar at Inner Temple, but remained at Oxford as a tutor and fellow for Lincoln College. He bought a typewriter and began recording his wartime experiences in legal terms. It was twenty years before The Law of Restitution, a massive tome, finally appeared in print in 1966. The analysis was a focus on repairing the damage of war in Europe through the philosophical metaphor of contract law. Making and breaking deals and bargains had brought Europe into conflicts of interest, collapsing the normal juridical process of trial and testing the validity of contracts and the remedies for restoring equity. The work broke new ground on the equitable doctrine of restitution and was widely used by City lawyers, judges and barristers alike. With Gareth Jones, a Cambridge law professor, they explored the doctrine of "unjust enrichment", greatly expanding the conceptual meaning of equity in civil cases to encompass rectification of wrongs done by commercial entreprises, profoundly impacting the expansion of city institutions, for it touched on areas like insurance, pensions and fiduciary duties. It also had impacts on the criminal law of fraud.
Goff began pupillage at 5 King's Bench walk, in Sir Ashton Roskill's chambers where he concentrated mainly on civil and commercial law, which ultimately became his speciality. He took silk in 1967, the same year his chambers amalgamated with that at No. 7.
Goff was appointed to the High Court (Queen's Bench Division) in 1975, and received the customary knighthood. He held the office of Bencher of the Inner Temple and High Court Judge of the Queen's Bench between 1975-82. He was made a Lord Justice of Appeal and was sworn in as a Privy Councillor in 1982.
Goff was influential in the teaching of law. He was honorary professor of Legal Ethics at Birmingham University and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education. He also held many honorary degrees and fellowships. He was a Fellow of the British Academy. He served as President of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and was a patron of the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal, From 1991 to 2001 he was High Steward of Oxford University.
Goff was made a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and a life peer on 6 February 1986, as Baron Goff of Chieveley, of Chieveley in the County of Berkshire. He regularly sat in the House of Lords, and was an active participant in debates. On 1 October 1996, The Lord Keith of Kinkel retired as Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary and Lord Goff succeeded him. In 1999 he was awarded the Grand Cross (First Class) of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his contribution to British awareness of German law. Lord Goff remained in the role until his own retirement.
Goff died in August 2016 at the age of 89.
Lord Goff gave many important judgments, including his judgments in the following cases:
- Barclays Bank Ltd v W J Simms, Son and Cooke (Southern) Ltd  1 QB 677, described as "the Donoghue v Stevenson of restitution for mistake."
- BP Exploration Co (Libya) Ltd v Hunt  1 WLR 783
- Elanco Products Ltd v Mandops (Agrochemical Specialists) Ltd  FSR 46
- Daulia Ltd v Four Millbank Nominees Ltd  Ch 231
- Cambridge Water Co Ltd v Eastern Counties Leather plc  1 All ER 53 – explained the relationship between Private Nuisance and Rylands v Fletcher
- Collins v Wilcock  3 All ER 374 – In his judgement in this case he defines both battery and assault which has become the accepted definitions.
- Spiliada v Cansulex Ltd  AC 460, the leading judicial authority on forum non conveniens in the conflict of laws.
- Société Nationale Industrielle Aérospatiale v Lee Kui Jak  UKPC 12,  AC 871, leading authority on anti-suit injunctions.
- Attorney-General v Observer Ltd. and Others.  1 AC 109
- R v R  1 AC 599
- Lipkin Gorman v Karpnale Ltd  4 All ER 331, a transformative case in the law of restitution.
- R v Gough  2 All ER 724
- Lord Napier v Kershaw  AC 713
- The Pioneer Container  2 AC 324
- Westdeutsche Landesbank Girozentrale v Islington LBC  AC 669 (dissenting on the question of the award of compound interest) "No genetic engineering is required, only that the warm sun of judicial creativity should exercise its benign influence rather than remain hidden behind the dark clouds of legal history."
- Henderson v Merrett Syndicates Ltd  2 AC 145, on dual liability in contract and tort.
- Hunter v Canary Wharf Ltd  A.C. 655 – leading case on Private Nuisance
- White v Jones  AC 207, on duty of care in tort.
- Kleinwort Benson Ltd v Lincoln City Council  2 AC 349
- Re Pinochet  UKHL
- Attorney General v Blake  1 AC 268
- "Lord Goff of Chieveley, Senior Law Lord – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 18 August 2016.
- The Daily Telegraph, Friday 19 August 2016
- "No. 46775". The London Gazette. 30 December 1975. p. 16381.
- "Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal – Board of Patrons". Archived from the original on 6 February 2005. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
- "No. 50427". The London Gazette. 11 February 1986. p. 1981.
- "State Intelligence". London Gazette. 4 October 1996. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- Virgo, Graham (1999). The Principles of the Law of Restitution. Clarendon Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-19-876377-8.
The Lord Keith of Kinkel
| Senior Law Lord
The Lord Browne-Wilkinson