Professor Robert Rennie, a leading authority on Scots property law, has passed away following a sudden illness.
Professor Rennie was appointed to the (part time) Chair of Conveyancing at the University of Glasgow in 1993 and held the post until he retired in 2014, when he was given the title Emeritus Professor. He remained a consultant at Harper Macleod, which he joined as a partner in 2002.
He qualified as a solicitor in 1969, after studying at the University of Glasgow and training at Bishop, Milne, Boyd & Co, the firm of Professor Jack Halliday who then held the conveyancing chair. From the outset he showed an aptitude for property law and completed his PhD thesis, “Floating Charges – A Treatise from the Standpoint of Scots Law”, in 1972.
In the same year he joined Motherwell practice Ballantyne & Copland. Retired judge Lord Bonomy, then a solicitor at the firm, who wrote the career retrospective in the collection of essays published in Professor Rennie’s honour in 2015, said of this move: “I remain of the view that acquisition compares favourably with the acquisition of Kenny Dalglish by Liverpool from Celtic. Robert would be a mainstay, ultimately the mainstay, of the firm for almost 30 years.”
In addition to maintaining a busy legal practice, he authored many articles and textbooks on property law and negligence matters including conveyancing, missives, the execution of deeds, solicitors' negligence, the law of minerals, standard securities, land tenure following the abolition of the feudal system and electronic conveyancing.
He was in demand as a conference speaker and regularly provided opinions to other members of the legal profession in relation to conveyancing, property law and negligence matters and frequently appeared as an expert witness in court.
Professor Rennie also played his part in property law reform, as a member of the Scottish Law Commission working parties on the abolition of the feudal system, title conditions, tenements, leasehold tenure and the law relating to the seabed and foreshore. He was a member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Conveyancing Committee for over 15 years.
Harper Macleod chairman Professor Lorne Crerar said in a tribute: "I can’t think of a more popular partner and well respected member of the legal profession than Robert. He was a lovely man about whom I never heard a bad word.”
He added: “He was a huge source of support to me personally and at all times a sage and calm advisor. He had an immense, positive effect on everyone who encountered him, from students to fellow professionals, and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew and worked with him.
"All our thoughts will be with his wife and family at this terrible time."
Law Society of Scotland President Amanda Millar said: “Robert was such a well known and highly respected figure in the legal profession and within academic circles. His contribution to the profession, and indeed generations of conveyancers, is unparalleled as he quite literally wrote the book and more on Scots property law. He was always generous in sharing his knowledge and supporting so many in the profession. Even in retirement he continued to support law students through our mentoring programme and was an active member of our committees for many years.
“On behalf of everyone at the Law Society, I offer heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. He will be very much missed for his extensive, incisive legal knowledge and expertise, and for the humanity, wisdom and humour that he brought to everything he did.”