Thursday, February 29, 2024


Speakers (back row, left to right): Dean Jutta Brunnée, Justice Sharpe, Professor Martha Shaffer, and Professor Emerita Carol Rogerson; Professor Jim Phillips and Professor Emeritus John D. McCamus, Osgoode Hall Law School (seated, L-R).

The University of Toronto Faculty of Law is commemorating the career and contributions of Stephen Waddams (1942-2023), an internationally recognized scholar of contract law and legal history.

On Feb. 29, invited speakers will recollect on Waddams’ scholarly impact on judiciary and the development of the law, remedies and his areas of expertise in contract law and legal history.

He will also be fondly remembered for his collegial role, as a professor who taught many of his future colleagues, who all appreciated his ongoing willingness to discuss and share ideas.

“Stephen Waddams was a superb scholar, and inspiring teacher and a wonderful colleague,” says Dean Emeritus, the Hon. Robert Sharpe (LLB 1970), a distinguished jurist-in-residence at U of T Law. 

“He was a vital member of the U of T Law community for over 50 years and one of the great figures in the law school’s history.”

Waddams studied law at Cambridge University after completing his BA at the University of Toronto. He returned to U of T for his LLB and then earned a Master of Laws (LLM) and Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) at the University of Michigan. He joined the Faculty of Law in 1968.

As a faculty member, Waddams served as graduate coordinator from 1976 to 1987; held the inaugural Albert Abel Chair in 1994; and the Goodman/Schipper Chair from 2000 to 2020. He was a visiting senior research fellow, Jesus College, Oxford; visiting senior lecturer, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand; and visiting fellow, All Souls College, Oxford. He was a fellow of Trinity College, and a senior fellow of Massey College, both at U of T. He was selected Herbert Smith Freehills Visitor to Cambridge University in 2017. He was also a past editor of University of Toronto Law Journal.

Throughout his career, he strongly supported scholarly research in all fields of law and played a major role in making the Faculty of Law a vibrant research institution. Over the years, he taught many of his future colleagues who appreciated his continued willingness to discuss and share ideas.

In 2005, he was appointed to the rank of University Professor, which "recognizes unusual scholarly achievement and pre-eminence in a particular field of knowledge," a distinction granted to no more than two per cent of U of T's tenured faculty.

He became a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) in 1988 and was awarded the Canadian Association of Law Teachers/Law Reform Commission of Canada Award for Outstanding Contribution to Legal Research and Law Reform the following year. He received an award from U of T student organizations for excellence in teaching in 1990 and was awarded the David W. Mundell Medal for contributions to Law and Letters in 1996. In addition to a Killam Research Fellowship he was awarded in 1999, he received several grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Canada (SSHRC), most recently an Insight Grant (2020-2023) for the study of “Continuity and change in private law: the equitable perspective.”


Waddams’ legacy of scholarship includes nine books: Products Liability; The Law of Contracts; The Law of Damages, for which he was co-recipient of the Walter Owen Prize in 1987; Introduction to the Study of Law; Law, Politics and the Church of England; Sexual Slander in Nineteenth-Century England; Dimensions of Private Law: Categories and Concepts in Anglo-American Legal Reasoning; Principle and Policy in Contract Law: Competing or Complementary Perspectives?; and Sanctity of Contracts in a Secular Age: Equity, Fairness and Enrichment, as well as numerous law review articles and notes.

“Stephen Waddams will always be remembered as scholar, teacher and colleague,” says Dean and University Professor Jutta Brunnée, James Marshall Tory Dean’s Chair. “His remarkable 55-year career left an indelible mark on our Faculty.”

Download a copy of the program (PDF)

In tribute to Professor Waddams' lifetime of service to law and legal education, the Waddams family encourages donations to the The Stephen Waddams Bursary at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.