Prof. J.E.C. Brierley (1936-2001) held a B.A. from Bishop’s University, a B.C.L. from McGill University, and a doctorate in law from the Université de Paris. He was appointed teaching fellow at the McGill University Faculty of Law in 1960.
He later became assistant professor (1964), associate professor (1968) and full professor (1973). He taught Canadian and Quebec private law, focusing on civil law property, comparative law, and foundations of Canadian law. He also served as dean of the Faculty of Law from 1974 until 1984, and as the acting director of the Institute of Comparative Law, McGill University, in 1994.
He was named the Sir William Macdonald Professor of Law in 1979 and was the Wainwright Professor of Civil Law from 1994 until 1999. Following his retirement from McGill University in 2000, he was named Emeritus Wainwright Professor of Civil Law. He passed away in 2001. ( Obituary - Notice biographique Johh E.C. Brierley )
Professor Brierley was frequently invited as a speaker or a visiting professor to other law faculties, including the Université de Montréal, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, and the Institut de droit comparé of the Université de Paris II.
Professor Brierley wrote and co-authored numerous articles and books in both English and French, destined for publication in Canada as well as internationally. Noteworthy co-authored publications include Quebec Civil Law: An Introduction to Quebec Private Law with Professor R.A. Macdonald et al. (1993), Civil Code 1866-1980 – An Historical and Critical Edition with Professor P.-A. Crépeau (1981), Private Law Dictionary and Bilingual Lexicons with Professor R.P. Kouri et al. (1991), Dictionnaire de droit privé et lexiques bilingues with Professor P.-A. Crépeau et al. (1991) and Major Legal Systems in the World Today. A Comparative Study of Law with Professor René David, contributing to the first (1968), second (1978), and third editions (1985).
Throughout his career, John E.C. Brierley was involved in many associations and acted as a consultant for various projects. He was a member of the executive committee of the Canadian Society for Legal History, the Canadian Section of the Inter-American Commercial Arbitration Commission, the National Council of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, and the Canadian delegation of experts to UNIDROIT. He worked extensively in the Civil Code Revision Office, specifically as secretary for the Property Law Committee and for the Committee on the Law of Successions, Wills, Trusts and Gifts, as well as chair of the Committee on Legal Terminology. He also worked as a consultant for the Law Clerk at the Quebec National Assembly.
Professor Brierley received many awards for his accomplishments. In 1965, he obtained the Prix Robert Dennery from the Faculté de droit, Université de Paris, and one of his articles won first prize in the Concours de la Revue du Notariat in 1992. He was named trustee for the Fondation Jean-Charles Bonenfant by the Quebec National Assembly (1981-1988). He was also elected for a number of positions, namely as a member of the Board of Editors for the American Journal of Comparative Law (1989), associate member of the International Academy of Comparative Law (1991), member of the International Academy of Estates and Trusts Law, San Francisco (1992) and later as a member of its executive committee (1994-1999). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy I) in 1995.