Vale Professor Patrick Donovan AM

By Professor Ian Ramsay

On 3 February 2012, Professor Patrick Donovan, the fi holder of the Chair of Commercial Law at Melbourne Law School, passed away.

Born in 1922, Professor Donovan graduated with an LLB from the University of Queensland in 1946, where his study was interrupted by wartime service in the Australian Army. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University where, in 1949, he graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Law.

Professor Donovan was an associate professor at the University of Adelaide Law School prior to his appointment in 1952 to the newly established Chair of Commercial Law at Melbourne Law School, an initiative of the then Dean, Professor Zelman Cowen.

Professor  Donovan's  publications included Cases and Materials on Contract(co-authored with RE McGarvie) and Signed,Sealed and Delivered: An Introduction to Australian Commercial Principles(co-authored with BP Rymer and DA Sinclair).

In 1961, Professor Donovan resigned his position at the Law School to enter the diplomatic service where his distinguished career included appointments as commercial counsellor at the Australian embassy in Rome, special commercial adviser to the Australian High Commission in London (1968–1973), deputy head of the Australian mission to the European Economic  Community  (1974–1976), ambassador to the OECD in Paris (1977–1980), and ambassador and special trade delegate to the United Nation's office in Geneva (1980–1982). He then became a member of the International Court of Arbitration where he was appointed vice president in 1994.

His awards included the Order of Australia (1976) and the Chevalier Legion d'Honneur (France, 1998).

This article originally appeared in MLS News, Issue 7, May 2012.