In Memorial: Professor Thomas Wälde (1949-2008)

A leading figure in the field of international investment law passed away suddenly on 11 October 2008 at age 59.

Thomas W. Wälde, a professor at the University of Dundee, Scotland, fell at his holiday home in Southern France. News of his death, which spread across the on-line forums that he founded and fostered, has been met with an outpouring of grief.

A prolific writer, speaker and educator, Professor Wälde’s presence loomed large over the field of international investment law. He was a noted expert on investment law as it applied to the energy sector, and served as an expert witness, counsel and arbitrator in many international investor-state disputes. 

Professor Wälde grew up in Heidelberg, Germany, and studied law in Germany and Switzerland, before receiving his L.L.M. from Harvard University.

In 1980, he took up a post with the United Nations as interregional advisor on mineral law, where he provided guidance to developing country governments.

From 1991-2001, he served as Director of the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee. At the time of his death, he was Professor and Jean-Monnet Chair of International Economic, Natural Resources and Energy Law at the same university. Many of the condolences that have been expressed come from students and young professionals to whom Professor Wälde served as a mentor.

Professor Wälde was the driving force behind wide-ranging discussions on his internet-based discussion forum OGEMID (oil-gas-energy-mining-investment disputes). Despite the name, the forum concerned itself with much more than litigation in the energy and mining sector, due, in large part, to Professor Wälde, who stoked the fire of a debate whenever the embers began to fade.

 “Thomas and I disagreed on many things, but this was very much the point of his efforts in many cases. His encouragement of open debate and discussion set a benchmark for us all,” said Howard Mann, Director of the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Investment for Sustainable Development Programme.

Professor Wälde is survived by his wife, Professor Charlotte Wälde, and his son and daughter.