Obituary: Professor Patrick McAuslan

Pioneering Professor of Law

Patrick McAuslan was a member of the team that established the Birkbeck Law School in 1993, where he taught and researched until his death in January 2014. He was a pioneer and world expert in land law, law reform, sustainable development, the alleviation of poverty and planning law.

In a tribute to Professor McAuslan, Professor Costas Douzinas, Professor of Law and Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, said: "Patrick studied at Oxford University and taught at the LSE, Warwick, UCL and Birkbeck. His Birkbeck Professorial Inaugural Address was his fourth, but he proudly stated that the reception afterwards was the best. His courses in planning, environmental and land law changed mainstream perceptions, as did his classic Ideologies of Planning Law (1980).

"But his legacy remains the lifelong commitment to social justice and development through land reform, and his love affair with Africa. It started in 1961, when Patrick and William Twining established the first African Law School in Dar es Salaam, where he taught for five years.

"In 1993, Patrick was appointed Land Management Co-ordinator of the UN-Habitat Urban Management Programme in Nairobi, starting a long career of advising governments on land management reform. He acted as an advisor for the UN, the World Bank, the European Union and Department for International Development among others. Patrick visited 35 countries to advise on land management and alleviation of poverty, and contributed to land reform in many of those. Indeed there are not many developing world countries or 'difficult' places he did not visit as an advisor.

"His land policy work has been documented in his prolific writing. His recent books include Land Law Reform in Eastern Africa: Traditional or Transformative? and Bringing the Law Back In: Essays in Land, Law and Development. It is no exaggeration to call Professor McAuslan the father of postcolonial land law."