Jim Gower (Cassel Professor of Commercial Law, 1948-1962)

gower, jim

Jim Gower was appointed as Cassel professor in 1948 after a period as a practicing solicitor and war service (where he rose from a private to become a lieutenant-colonel).  His made a lasting, scholarly mark with his book Principles of Modern Company Law (first published in 1954), which combined doctrinal, historical and policy analysis.  In 2016 the 10th edition of the book was published, edited by Paul Davies, one of his successors in the Cassel chair, and Sarah Worthington, a fellow former professorial member of the Department. Gower was an important influence in the Department’s growth in the 1950s and in the advancement of legal education more widely, which he took as the subject of his controversial inaugural lecture in 1949.  After fourteen years at the School he resigned in 1962 to become the Dean of the Faculty of Law in Lagos, in the nearly independent Nigeria. His contribution was cut short when he was sacked in the context of the impending civil war in that country.  On return to Britain in 1965 he became a law commissioner in the newly established Law Commission. He did much in that position to promote the reform of family law.  After a period as Vice- Chancellor at Southampton University, he played an important role in the passage of the Financial Services Act 1986, especially its investor protection aspects through his two reports for the government on the subject (1984, 1985). Subsequently, he became an adviser to the first financial services regulator, the Securities and Investment Board, established under the 1986 Act.