Lionel Smith

Full Professor
Sir William C. Macdonald Professor

3690 Peel Street
Room 105
Montreal, Quebec
Canada H3A 1W9

514-398-4670 [Office]
lionel.smith [at] (Email)

Lionel Smith
Image by Lysanne Larose.

Consult his Publications on SSRN
Download: PDF icon Lionel Smith - Publications [.pdf] (update: April 2020)

Lionel Smith is interested in all aspects of fundamental comparative private law. He is particularly engaged with how private law understands aspects of unselfish behaviour, and he has an active research agenda in the law relating to trusts, fiduciary obligations, gifts, and unjust enrichment, in civil law and in common law. He is always interested in supervising postgraduate research in these fields.

He is the author of The Law of Tracing (Oxford University Press, 1997), and a co-author of Waters' Law of Trusts in Canada, 4th ed. (Carswell, 2012). He is a co-author and the English reporter of Commercial Trusts in European Private Law (Cambridge University Press, 2005; paperback, 2009). He is a contributor to Canadian Corporate Law: Cases, Notes and Materials, 4th ed. (Butterworths, 2010), Oosterhoff on Trusts: Text, Commentary and Materials, 7th ed. (Carswell, 2009), and The Law of Restitution in Canada: Cases, Notes and Materials (Emond Montgomery, 2004).

He is the editor of three works on comparative trust law: The Worlds of the Trust (Cambridge University Press, 2013); La fiducie en droit civil (a special issue ((2013) 58:4) of the McGill Law Journal) and Re-imagining the Trust: Trusts in Civil Law (Cambridge University Press, 2012). He is also the author of numerous articles, book chapters, notes and reviews. 

Lionel Smith is a Titular Member of the International Academy of Comparative Law. He is also a member of the American Law Institute, the European Law Institute, and the International Academy of Estate and Trust Law. He is a non-practising member of the Bar of Alberta. In 2017 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford.


  • LL.B., Faculté de droit, Université de Montréal: 2001-2006
  • D. Phil., Lincoln College, Oxford: 1992-1994
  • LL.M., Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge: 1989-1990
  • LL.B., Faculty of Law, University of Western Ontario: 1986-1989
  • B.Sc., Faculty of Arts and Science, Trinity College, University of Toronto: 1983-1986


  • William C. Macdonald Chair, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2014- )
  • Visiting Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford (2017- )
  • Director, Paul-André Crépeau Centre for Private and Comparative Law [previously named the Quebec Research Centre of Private and Comparative Law] (2007-2014)
  • Professor of Private Law, Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London (partial appointment) (2013-2016)
  • James McGill Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2004-2014)
  • Full Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2007- )
  • William Dawson Scholar, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2003-2004)
  • Associate Dean (Graduate Studies and Research), Faculty of Law, McGill University (2001-2004)
  • Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University (2000-2007)
  • Official Fellow and Tutor in Law, St. Hugh's College, Oxford University, and Lecturer in Law, Oxford University (1996-2000)
  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta (1991-1992; 1994-1996)
  • Law Clerk to the Hon. Mr. Justice John Sopinka, Supreme Court of Canada, (1990-1991)

Areas of Interest

Private law in common law and civil law, especially the law governing unjust enrichment, loyalty and trusts, succession, and gifts, including the philosophical foundations of private law.

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