Stanley Alexander de Smith (Professor of Public Law, 1959-1970)

alexander de smith, tanley

Stanley Alexander de Smith joined LSE as an assistant lecturer in 1946 following distinguished service in the armed forces during the war. He was promoted to lecturer in 1948, reader in 1954, and in 1959 was elected professor of public law. In 1959, he was also awarded a PhD for a study that was published in the same year with the title Judicial Review of Administrative Action. This monumental and elegantly written work revealed for the first time the basic principles underlying a hitherto incremental set of judicial practices. The work became definitive of the subject and it transformed the study and practice of administrative law. De Smith also made many important contributions to constitutional law. He had a particular interest in the constitutional developments arising from decolonization, reflected in his work on The New Commonwealth and its Constitutions (1964). In 1971 saw the release of Constitutional and Administrative Law, his standard British textbook. In 1970 de Smith moved to Cambridge as Downing professor of the laws of England. Sadly his tenure was short-lived: in 1974, aged 51, de Smith died of cancer. Nevertheless, he had already consolidated his reputation as one of the most influential legal scholars of the latter half of the twentieth century.