The funeral was held in Cambridge today of Professor Kurt Lipstein, Fellow of Clare College since 1956 and a distinguished member of the Law Faculty, who died last week at the age of 97.

Professor Lipstein was active right up until the end of his life, attending his last public function in the Law Faculty on 20 November, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of obtaining his PhD.

Kurt Lipstein was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany on 19th March 1909. His father was from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Russia) and his mother from Frankfurt. He had an English great-grandfather, and his grandmother had grown up in England. This explained the relative ease with which Kurt eventually settled into England.

After his schooling at the Goethe Gymnasium in Frankfurt, Kurt studied law at the University of Grenoble (1927) and Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin (1927-31). Here, he rubbed shoulders (metaphorically if not actually) with professors such as Wolff and Rabels, and younger colleagues including von Caemmerer, and Mezger. His classical education in Greek and Latin allowed him later to have clear insights into the inner workings of Roman Law - these days something of a lost art.

Once graduated, his practical legal training began in 1931 as Referendar in Königstein and then at the district of Court of Appeal of Frankfurt, but with the election of the National Socialists to power, his career effectively collapsed.

In April 1933 employment in the civil service was barred to Jewish professionals, and in 1934 Kurt emigrated to England to escape persecution. He obtained a place at Trinity College to study for his PhD, which was on the subject of suretyship - the provision of guarantee against loss or damage - within Roman Law.

Soon after the Second World War broke out Kurt was interned as an enemy alien and sent to camps at Bury St Edmunds and then Liverpool. Here he met an eclectic mix of academics and professionals, many of whom later went on to either high office or academic status (or both).

Luckily the university secured his release, and he returned to Cambridge where he was given membership of Clare College. He became a fellow in 1956.

The Law Faculty Board employed Kurt as Faculty Secretary for a small stipend, and in 1944 he married Gwyneth Herford (who later went became Mayor of Cambridge). After the war, in 1946, he was appointed to one of a batch of new lectureships and he remained in this post until 1962, when he was appointed Reader in Conflict of Laws. In 1973 Kurt became Professor of Comparative Law and in 1977 the University awarded him his LLD.

Kurt Lipstein formally retired in 1977, but continued to give supervisions with great enthusiasm and charisma to students at Clare College, and remained academically active to the last. His success with the students was grounded in his legal knowledge, but his charm and sense of humour had much to do with his popularity, as evidenced by the tributes from around the world which are flooding onto the Faculty of Law website.

Kurt Lipstein was also a Member of Trinity College and an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College. He was made Honorary Queen’s Counsel in 1998.

There will be a Memorial Service at Great St Mary’s Church at 11.30am on Saturday 10 March 2007.

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