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charles drake

Emeritus Professor Charles Drake, MA LLB

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death of Emeritus Professor Charles Drake, formerly of the School of Law, who passed away on 2 August 2013.

Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, Charles Drake did not initially intend a career in academia. He was called to the Bar (Middle Temple) in 1950 and practised law before joining the staff of the College of Commerce (later Newcastle Polytechnic) in 1953.His next academic post was as a Lecturer in Law at Durham, which he took up in 1965. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer at Durham before joining the University in 1972 as Chair in Law (later redesignated Chair in English Law).

At Leeds he pursued his interests in employment law and industrial relations, gaining an impressive scholarly reputation, and building upon his book on partnership law (long established as a best seller) and works on employment law. Further publications included books on health and safety at work and on the statutes affecting rights of trade unions. His reputation was reflected in the esteem of his peers within the UK and his professional roles (for example as a member of the Editorial Board of the Industrial Law Journal and as a Chair of arbitrations for ACAS). He also had a substantial international reputation. He was sought after as a Visiting Professor and greatly enjoyed a year’s sabbatical at both the University of South Carolina (1978-79) and the Vanderbilt Law School (1985-86). He greatly admired the energy and commitment of the US academics with whom he worked, and the ambition amongst the students, and was able to return to Leeds with new inspiration for the department and the University. He was also in demand as a conference speaker and adviser, for example assisting the government of Fiji during 1981 in codifying the employment law of that country and validating the law degree of the Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1988.

He proved an excellent teacher, who encouraged his students to think for themselves, but who also had the time and the patience to devote to those who asked for his help. He expected his students to challenge conventional wisdom – as he himself always did – rather than to take their teaching on trust, and tried to foster in them the detachment necessary in order to analyse information and to stand back from emotive issues and take a broad perspective.

Charles also contributed fully to the wider University community. Before his retirement in 1989, he served as both Dean of the Faculty of Law (1974-78) and Head of the Department of Law (1979-82) and was a longstanding member of, inter alia, the Senate; the Faculty Board; the Board of the Institute of Education; the Research Degrees Committee; the Committee on Applications and several sub-committees of the Senate concerned with pay and conditions. He also represented the University externally on the Universities’ Committee for Non-teaching Staff and the Governing Body of the then Leeds Polytechnic.

A man of strong principles, respected amongst colleagues and students for his scholarly approach, clarity of thought, his loyalty and professional standards, Charles was also a witty and charming man of great personal warmth whom many colleagues were proud to count as a friend. He will be remembered with great affection and respect by all those who worked and studied with him.

Professor Drake is survived by his son, Christopher, and daughter, Marion. A family funeral has taken place.