Professor Philip Love CBE

Professor Philip Love CBE

Members of the profession and others will be saddened to learn of the death on 2 February of Professor Philip Love, who was formerly the professor of conveyancing and professional practice of law at the University of Aberdeen and latterly, vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool.

Phil was born in Aberdeen, went to school and university there and became a solicitor, practising in Aberdeen. He combined being an academic with the practice of law which gave his students an insight into “the real world”.

I was privileged to know him as a colleague, but when I joined the Department in 1982, Phil was not only a colleague, but became a friend and my career thereafter is down entirely to him. He introduced me to the Law Society of Scotland and its committees and I later became a Council member.

Phil’s life in the university started as a part-time lecturer in evidence & procedure, and then he became the professor of conveyancing. When the diploma in legal practice started, the part-time chair of conveyancing became full-time with the addition of “and professional practice of law”. Sadly, the chair no longer exits.

He was an inspired teacher and was helpful in his own quiet way to many students and practitioners in Aberdeen and beyond. He was highly regarded locally and was elected to represent Aberdeen solicitors on the Council of the Law Society of Scotland, and later became vice-president and then president and for that was made a CBE. He did not allow the commitments which these positions demanded to detract from his University obligations, nor were they affected when he later became a member of the Scottish Law Commission where his knowledge of the feudal system was of great value when the commission embarked on reform in that area.

The university principal, George McNicol, recognised his qualities and he was appointed as a vice-principal, but he did not accept immediately, as he wanted to tell me that that would entail my becoming the head of the department; if I was not willing to take that on, he would not be a VP. I was not going to stand in his way as I owed him such a lot, I knew that he would be more than just a “safe pair of hands”, and that the principal and the university would benefit from his wisdom and practical approach.

When McNicol resigned, Phil applied, unsuccessfully, to be the principal at Aberdeen and again, unsuccessfully in relation to Strathclyde. He told me that he was not going to try again, but I suggested that this did not mean that he would not be approached, a suggestion which he sort of dismissed, but shortly thereafter, Liverpool called and he accepted the position as vice-chancellor. Sadly, his first wife, Isobel, died not long after he went to Liverpool, but unbeknown to him, his second wife, also Isobel, whom he had known before he met the first Isobel, has moved there, but she was equally unaware that he was there. They met, married and were together for over 25 years.

He was, by all accounts, a popular and highly-respected holder of the post of vice-chancellor — not an easy task by any means. I have never heard anyone who had a bad word to say about him. Not that he tried to please everyone; that is mad, but, if someone did not get what they wanted, they got a fair hearing and a cogent explanation for the decision.

One can give only a flavour of Phil’s various contributions. Apart from what has already been mentioned, he was involved in local charities, both in Aberdeen and Liverpool, a member of the Rules Council of the Court of Session, an honorary sheriff, vice-president of the Scottish Law Agents Society, and a member of the Council of the International Bar Association, etc. and the “etc” is fairly extensive as his entry in “Who’s Who” shows.

After he retired, he moved back to Aberdeen and resumed friendships which he had made before going to England. My friend and former colleague, Mike Christie, and I looked forward to our cheery lunches with Phil.

The solicitors’ profession in Scotland benefited enormously from his tireless input; academe similarly benefitted. Those of us who were his friends owe a great debt to him, but, in all these areas, he would not have accepted that he had done anything more than anyone else. From my perspective, very few have his qualities, but, in his memory, we should do our best to benefit our students and members of the legal profession in Scotland.

Douglas J. Cusine

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