Robert Goff, Baron Goff of Chieveley

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The Lord Goff of Chieveley

The Lord Goff of Chieveley as an appellate judge
Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
1 October 1996 – 30 September 1998
Preceded byThe Lord Keith of Kinkel
Succeeded byThe Lord Browne-Wilkinson
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
In office
6 February 1986 – 30 September 1998
Succeeded byThe Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough
Personal details
Born
Robert Lionel Archibald Goff

(1926-11-12)12 November 1926
Kinloch, Perthshire, Scotland
Died14 August 2016(2016-08-14) (aged 89)
Cambridge, England
Spouse(s)Sarah Goff (née Cousins)
Children4, including Katharine Goff, Juliet Goff, Thomas Goff and William Goff
ParentsLieutenant-Colonel Lionel Trevor Goff, Isobel Jane Goff (née Denroche-Smith)[1]
EducationNew College, Oxford
(B.A.)
AwardsOrder of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (First Class)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 7 Grosskreuz.svg
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/serviceUnited Kingdom Scots Guard, British Army
Years of service1944-1948[2]
Battles/warsWorld War II

Robert Lionel Archibald Goff, Baron Goff of Chieveley, PC FBA (/ɡɔːf/) (12 November 1926 – 14 August 2016) was an English barrister and former Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. He was the original co-author of Goff & Jones, the leading authoritative English law textbook on restitution and unjust enrichment. He subsequently practiced law as a commercial barrister and was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1967.[3] He was appointed a High Court judge in 1975, a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1982 and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary in 1986.[4] He was appointed High Steward of the University of Oxford in 1991, a post he held until 2001.

Goff was known for his modest and courteous manner, which belied a sharp and incisive legal mind.[5][6] In his obituary, The Telegraph referred to an "unbroken series of successes" in his "glittering legal career".[7] Prominent and landmark cases that Goff presided over included the Spycatcher case, Lloyd's negligence litigation, and cases following the Hillsborough disaster. Following the Hillsborough disaster, Goff ruled, in a landmark judgment involving Tony Bland, that the right to life in cases of persistent vegetative state was not sacrosanct.[8] After his retirement, Goff sat on the bench that decided the extradition of General Augusto Pinochet to Spain for crimes against humanity, following his indictment and arrest. He was notable for being the sole dissenter in that case, with the majority ruling in favour of extradition.[9]

Early life and career[edit]

Goff was born in his mother's family home in Perthshire, Scotland and was raised in Hampshire, England.[10]

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.[11]

In 1951 he was called to the Bar at Inner Temple, but remained at Oxford as a tutor and fellow for Lincoln College. It was twenty years before The Law of Restitution, a massive tome, finally appeared in print in 1966. 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.

Judicial career[edit]

Goff was appointed to the High Court (Queen's Bench Division) in 1975, and received the customary knighthood.[12] 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,[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] 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.

Important judgments[edit]

Lord Goff gave many important judgments, including his judgments in the following cases:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley obituary: Forward-looking law lord keen to reconcile practical justice with principle". The Guardian. 30 August 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  2. ^ Morton, James (30 August 2016). "Lord Goff of Chieveley obituary: Forward-looking law lord keen to reconcile practical justice with principle". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2018. He served in the Scots Guards for four years from 1944 before completing his education at New College, Oxford
  3. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley: Senior law lord who was involved in the first right-to-die judgment and argued against the extradition of General Pinochet to Spain". The Times. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  4. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley, Senior Law Lord – obituary". The Telegraph. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley, Senior Law Lord – obituary". The Telegraph. 18 August 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2018. Always a pleasure to deal with, decent and kind in manner, Goff had a quiet, somewhat languid style of speaking which thinly concealed a mind of rapier-like quality. At any legal gathering, his gentle and courteously phrased questions on any number of issues could unsettle the less well informed.
  6. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley: Senior law lord who was involved in the first right-to-die judgment and argued against the extradition of General Pinochet to Spain". The Times. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 24 July 2018. Lord Goff of Chieveley believed that “a reasonable degree of modesty, or at least diffidence, should be part of the job specification” for a judge. This, from a man whose unrivalled legal knowledge, and rapier-sharp mind both awed and occasionally unsettled his legal contemporaries. Few were surprised when in 1996 Goff was appointed senior law lord.
  7. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley, Senior Law Lord – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 18 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley, Senior Law Lord – obituary". The Telegraph. 2016-08-18. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  9. ^ "Lord Goff of Chieveley, Senior Law Lord – obituary". The Telegraph. 2016-08-18. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  10. ^ "Obituaries: Lord Goff of Chievely" (PDF). The Times. Retrieved 23 November 2018. He grew up in Hampshire, but spent many holidays at his mother's family home in Perthshire.
  11. ^ The Daily Telegraph, Friday 19 August 2016
  12. ^ "No. 46775". The London Gazette. 30 December 1975. p. 16381.
  13. ^ "Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal – Board of Patrons". Archived from the original on 6 February 2005. Retrieved 19 March 2009.
  14. ^ "No. 50427". The London Gazette. 11 February 1986. p. 1981.
  15. ^ "State Intelligence". London Gazette. 4 October 1996. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  16. ^ Virgo, Graham (1999). The Principles of the Law of Restitution. Clarendon Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-19-876377-8.
Legal offices
Preceded by
The Lord Keith of Kinkel
Senior Law Lord
1996–1998
Succeeded by
The Lord Browne-Wilkinson