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Ian Fletcher

posted by Jay Lawrence Westbrook

Ian Fletcher has passed away. He was a very important figure in insolvency law in England and elsewhere and a giant in the international side of our field. His passing is a great loss of a wonderful scholar and friend. His career is described on line at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/laws/people/prof-ian-fletcher and in a posting by the distinguished Dutch scholar Bob Wessels, http://www.bobwessels.nl/blog/2018-07-doc3-passing-away-of-prof-ian-f-fletcher/.

In the Festschrift in his honor I recounted how I met him:

I remember so well my first meeting with that great scholar and teacher Ian Fletcher. I had been astounded to come upon Cross-Border Insolvency: Comparative Dimensions (The Aberystwyth Papers). At a time when international and comparative insolvency was in its infancy, to come upon so sophisticated an editor and author was remarkable. As soon as I could, I hied myself to the very tip of Wales to meet him. I have learned from him and enjoyed his friendship ever since. One reason we fell in so quickly together was a common conviction that international juridical cooperation was a growing necessity and that insolvency presented perhaps the most pressing case for it. As he later put it in his outstanding treatise on international insolvency: “The increased awareness in recent times of the negative consequences of [the] international fragmentation of policy and approach to cross-border insolvency issues has fueled the quest for improved solutions.”

As part of the Internationalist Principle, he wisely advised that: “flexibility and pragmatism must be substituted for the dogmas so beloved of former ages.”

His treatise on international insolvency has been the definitive work all over the world for many years, just as his treatise on insolvency generally was a leading text in the United Kingdom. His many publications enlightened us all. 

I particularly want to remember his generous willingness to join the ALI advisory committee for the Transnational Insolvency Project, attending most of our meetings in Philadelphia in person. That project led in turn to his important work with Bob Wessels in creating Transnational Insolvency: Global Principles for Cooperation in International Insolvency Cases.

He founded the Academics Forum at INSOL and was the outstanding editor of the International Insolvency Review for many years.  I don’t think either of these projects would have succeeded as they have without his leadership and the warm regard for him thoughout our field. 

He was also a wonderful teacher at Queen Mary and then University College London. He mentored a number of students, including some who in turn became important scholars. One of my happiest memories was of a cross-border class that we taught together in real time on line. His students advised their English clients about the problem while mine advised their American clients at my end, all in real time with vigorous exchanges all around, stimulated by the inimitable Ron Harmer.  It was so fitting that his career with students was capped with the establishment of the Ian Fletcher International Moot, a remarkable initiative entering its third successful year.

Beyond all of that, Ian was as good and reliable a friend as one could have and good company to boot.  All of us are thinking of Letitia and his family at this hour, with sadness for their loss but with fondness for our time together. I think especially of Julian and Daniel at a baseball game in Austin, loving the excitement and learnedly discussing the differences between baseball and cricket (at which their father was very good).  A great family and a rare man.


This is sad news, indeed. Ian was the consummate gentleman-scholar and--along with you, Jay--one of the top two role models whom I try (generally unsuccessfully) to emulate as both a person and a professor. He made such an impression on me in our brief interactions. We were lucky to know him and his work, which will live on as relevant and compelling authority for years to come. The world is impoverished by his passing.

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