Pierre WidmerPierre Widmer †

Prof. (em.) Swiss Institute of Comparative Law in Lausanne-Dorigny,
Honorary Member of the European Centre
of Tort and Insurance Law


On 13 May 2020, Pierre Widmer passed away at the age of 82. A native of Berne (Switzerland), he studied law at the University of Berne, where he also served as a university assistant from 1965 to 1973 with Professor Hans Merz, interrupted by one year of research at Unidroit in Rome. He subsequently served at the Swiss Federal Office of Justice for seventeen years, first as a staff legal advisor, then as a deputy-director, where he was in charge of legislative projects in private national and international law. In 1990, he became the director of the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law in Lausanne, retiring in 2003.
From 1981 to 2001, Pierre lectured tort law at the University of St. Gallen, where he was awarded a titular professorship in 1986. He also taught at the universities of Zurich and Lucerne. He was a member and chair of various Swiss and international expert commissions, including at the Council of Europe, UNCITRAL and Unidroit, of whose Governing Council he was a member from 2004 to 2009 and an honorary member thereafter.
Pierre became one of the first members of the European Group on Tort Law in 1993. From 1999 to 2011, he chaired the Supervisory Board of the European Centre of Tort and Insurance Law (ECTIL), whose honorary member he was. In addition to a wide range of publications, one of his many outstanding contributions to the research and practice of tort law was his co-authorship of the internationally acclaimed draft of a comprehensive reform and unification of Swiss tort law (1988-2000, together with Pierre Wessner). His excellence was acknowledged inter alia by the Great Walter Hug Award (1996) and an honorary doctorate at the University of Berne (2006).
The European Centre of Tort and Insurance Law has lost one of its founding members, a brilliant scholar and a dear friend. We are deeply saddened by the loss and would like to extend our heartfelt and sincere condolences to his wife and family.