Prof. M. Cantin Cumyn joined McGill University in 1977 as a Wainwright Junior Fellow. She became a full professor in 1991 and was named Wainwright Professor of Civil Law in 2005. Before embarking on an academic career, she worked at the Civil Code Revision Office, where she took part in the drafting of reports on successions, substitution, trusts and juridical personality. She also served as the associate general rapporteur responsible for the coordination of the chapters on property law and security on property.
A member of the Barreau du Québec, Madeleine Cantin Cumyn sat on a number of its committees and actively contributed to elaborating the position of the Barreau on the Civil Code Reform and to its presentation at the parliamentary commissions of the National Assembly of Quebec. These contributions were recognized with a (collective) Merit Award from the Barreau du Québec (1993). In addition to drafting several briefs on matters of public interest, she delivered several presentations. She also served on the Advisory Committee of the Continuing Education Service of the Barreau du Québec (1983-1988) and was a member of the jury for the Concours juridique de la Fondation du Barreau (1987-1991).
Madeleine Cantin Cumyn holds a B.A. cum laude and a LL.L cum laude from the Université Laval. She received the Governor-General’s Gold Medal in 1962 and the Gold Medal of the Barreau de Paris in 1966. She was elected associate member of the International Academy of Comparative Law in 1999. She has been Visiting Professor at Université de Droit d’Économie et de Sciences d’Aix-Marseille (1986), at the Facultat de Dret, Universitat de Barcelona (2000 and 2002) and at Keio University, Tokyo, Japan (2011).
Madeleine Cantin Cumyn is the author of numerous books and articles, recognized as belonging to the fundamental civil law doctrine. Her publications relate principally to property law subjects, which she approaches with an original perspective, bringing a new understanding of the matter. A notable example is her article “De l'existence et du régime juridique des droits réels de jouissance innommés: essai sur l'énumération limitative des droits réels” (1986), now used as a reference for one of the most debated issues in civil law jurisdictions.
She is frequently consulted by European civil-law scholars because of her publications on the new Quebec model of trusts and on the civil law institution of trusts as a legal device within the civil law regime capable of incorporating original features of anglo-saxon trusts. Ms. Cantin Cumyn is the author of L’administration du bien d’autrui in the Traité de droit civil (2000), the first work to systematically discuss administration of the property of another in the civil law tradition. This treatise, now in its 2nd edition, highlights the independent concept of private power, also the subject of her Wainwright Lecture (published as “Le pouvoir juridique” (2007)). It provided the theme for the international colloquium on L’administration du bien d’autrui, held on June 11, 2015, at the Faculty of Law of the Université Jean Moulin, Lyon III and in which she participated.
In addition, Professor Cantin Cumyn has made a significant contribution in the debate about the management of soft water. Her proposition to elaborate all the regulations on water by characterizing water as res communis, currently its status in Quebec civil law, was confirmed in the statement of the national public policy on water of the Quebec Government, published as La politique nationale de l’eau : l’eau, la vie, l’avenir (2002). The Water Act, a statute adopted in 2009 (R.S.Q. c. C-6.2), incorporates the concept of res communis with its explicit reference to article 913 of the Civil Code of Québec.