Dr Stannard awarded an OBE for services to legal education
A career in service to legal education
Much loved School of Law stalwart Dr John Stannard was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list for services to legal education.
The Order of the British Empire, established in 1917 by King George V, was intended to honour those who had served in a non-combative role during the First World War and subsequently expanded to reward outstanding contributions to the Arts, Sciences, Charitable work and Public Service.
John Stannard was born in East Anglia and was brought up and educated in the North of England. After reading for his law degree at Oxford, he taught Roman Law at the University of Aberdeen from 1974 to 1976. John was appointed the following year to a lectureship in the School of Law at Queen's University, Belfast, where he has remained ever since. He has written and taught widely over various subjects, including Criminal Law, Contract, Tort, Sentencing, Roman Law and Employment Law. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a member of the Society of Legal Scholars. He was also a founder member of the Irish Association of Law Teachers, of which he served as President from 2001 to 2002, and in November 2022 was elected an Honorary Life Member of the Association. In March 2022 he was recognised for Lifetime Achievement in the Queen's University Staff Excellence Award and, most recently, an OBE in the New Year Honour list. John's tenure in the Law School has seen him instruct a large proportion of the Northern Irish legal community, many of whom fondly remember his inspirational lectures and tutorials.
Reflecting on his the award, John said, "I am an Englishman, born and brought up in England, and had never visited any part of Ireland until the day before the interview for my present post in May 1977. When I was offered and accepted the post, I certainly never imagined that I would still be here some forty five years later. Yet apart from a couple of occasions in my early years here, I have never had any desire to move. The credit for this must go to my many friends and colleagues, without whom I would be considerably at a loss. It is certainly a great privilege to be awarded the OBE, but it is an even greater privilege to have so many good people with whom to share it. All in all, I can no longer imagine living anywhere but Belfast, and I am encouraged to hope that I will still be able to make some contribution to the city, and to Queen's in particular, over the years ahead."
Head of School Professor Joan Loughrey paid tribute to John's dedication,
"This is such well deserved and well earned tribute to John's long and dedicated service to legal education. John has made a huge contribution over many years and his inspirational teaching has made a difference to and is remembered by generations of students. I join with my colleagues, his students and our alumni thanking him for all he has done over a life time of service and in wishing him many congratulations."
Congratulations from friends and colleagues
The Rt Hon Dame Siobhan Keegan, Lady Chief Justice
"I was delighted to learn that John had recently been awarded an OBE. This honour is richly deserved and rightly recognises John's immense contribution to law at Queen's University over many years.
I was fortunate to have John teach me criminal law in 1989 during my first year of study at Queen's. He left a lasting impression upon me for the way he brought cases to life, and at the same time embedded the core legal principles that I continue to apply when dealing with criminal cases. I think that it was his turn of phrase that made learning an enjoyable experience. I remember that he made sure that everyone contributed at tutorials without putting anyone under pressure. That was an inspired practice which gave all of us the confidence to speak up from an early stage. His lectures were never missed. They were also so popular that I remember some of my friends who didn't even study law attending them!
John's contribution to legal learning in Northern Ireland also extends beyond criminal law. He has written widely and lectured on various legal topics demonstrating his versatility. He has contributed to the legal learning of many of my colleagues on the Bench. I was delighted that John gave up his time to assist me in delivering a lecture in 2022, as part of the 100 years Legal History Project. As expected, it was a tour de force.
Alongside academic studies, I have observed John's support and encouragement for students throughout their time at university particularly as part of the mooting programme. He has contributed to the considerable success of the University in this area.
By virtue of these avenues, John has influenced many people and helped develop the law and the careers of lawyers in our jurisdiction and beyond. He has done so with intellectual rigour, courtesy, and kindness. I wish John well and hope that he is not a stranger to Queen's or the legal profession as he approaches retirement. John has much more wisdom to offer us all in the years ahead."
The Hon Mdm Justice McBride, Judge in Residence at the Law School
"I first met John when I was a nervous and slightly overawed first year undergraduate when he lectured in criminal law. I remember that very first lecture. John’s ability to make complex legal principles easily understood through his inimitable dramatic recounting of seminal cases excited in me an interest in criminal law which I retain to this day. His unique, engaging and creative teaching style made dry and dusty law cases intriguing, and soon I found myself having lively debates with fellow students about whether ‘necessity’ should be a defence to murder or whether ‘transferred malice’ could operate if the bullet fired injured the intended victim and then passed through him to kill an unintended bystander.
John was also very insightful about students and knew that our attention span was short. To address this, he had “intervals” of 5 minutes in the middle of his lectures when he read excerpts from “Alice in Wonderland”. This novel approach to teaching was clearly ahead of its time because– unlike most of what I was taught in other lectures– I still remember not only the most important criminal law legal principles but also the facts and names of those cases.
Over the years both as a student, tutor and now as the Judge in Residence at QUB Law School. I have had the opportunity to get to know John better. His passion for the law and his desire to make it more widely understood is shown though his long tenure at Queens, his legendary talks about notorious criminal trials and his contribution to continuing education of the legal profession. In these ways John has made a major contribution to the present shape of the legal profession in Northern Ireland, and he continues to keep on giving from his vast treasury of legal knowledge.
On a personal level John makes time for people. He is kind, understanding, insightful and compassionate. He is a truly unique and remarkable man."
The Hon Mr Justice Adrian Colton
"Dr John Stannard and I have something in common. We both came to Queen's in 1977, he as a young enthusiastic lecturer and I as a first year and perhaps less enthusiastic law student. Unusually, considering his subsequent career, he lectured my group in equity. His engaging and entertaining teaching style rendered what was to us an alien subject enjoyable and accessible.
Those teaching skills came to the fore in the field of criminal law where he earned a reputation for excellence in the law faculty and beyond.
Dr Stannard was immensely popular with his students. When the law class of 1977 organised a 25-year reunion dinner, as a 1977 entrant himself he was our obvious and popular guest of honour.
After graduating at Queen's, I, like most judges and practitioners attended many of his masterful lectures on famous criminal trials. He has always been a willing participant in and contributor to conferences organised by the profession in this jurisdiction. When I became senior criminal Judge I was particularly impressed by the course he developed at Queen's in sentencing law that provided students with both a theoretical and practical grounding in the subject. The course included contributions from the judiciary, legal practitioners and others involved in the administration of justice.
In more recent years his interests have extended to the relatively new and expanding discipline of law and emotion. When I was chair of the Judicial Studies Board I had recourse to the excellent publication, `the Emotional Dynamics of Law and Legal Discourse' edited by Dr Stannard in conjunction with Professor Heather Conway.
I am delighted to learn of Dr Stannard's award of OBE. It is a fitting and well-deserved recognition of his service to legal education."
Professor Emeritus Brice Dickson
"It is really heartening to see someone like my friend and colleague John Stannard being honoured by the conferment of an OBE. It is richly deserved recognition for a lifetime of inspirational teaching to cohort after cohort of law students at Queen's. Everyone who has been taught by him remembers him fondly and can testify to the effectiveness of his listening and communications skills. His work as a master of mooting has also been crucial to the success of many student competitors in that field. And there's lot of life in the old dog yet!"
Professor Emeritus Norma Dawson
"Congratulations, Dr Stannard OBE! I remember John's arrival in Queen's in the autumn of 1977, with a year or two's teaching in the University of Aberdeen already under his belt. That is a remarkable record of service to legal education. His dedication to the education of generations of law students, as well as to all those who attended his Famous Legal Trials extra-mural lecture series, is legendary."
Professor Emeritus Phil Scraton
"Teaching with John has been one of the highlights of my career. His teaching extends beyond Queen's, includes a community-based open learning programme, inspiring so many students to learning 'for its own sake'. An authority on Roman Law and contemporary criminal justice, his relatively recent research and writing on emotion in legal process demonstrates his continuing enthusiasm for knowledge. John's commitment to colleagues and students is remarkable and always inspirational. Within Queen's, his recent lifetime achievement award is evident in the fine work of many of his former students. Beyond the University, his excellence in teaching and research is now recognised through this honour. It will be received by John with pride, but also with grace and humility."
Professor Heather Conway
“Like so many others, my first encounter with John was as an undergraduate student in the Law School at Queen’s. He taught us Torts (John has often said that he’s something of a ‘Jack of All Trades’) and used acetate sheets on a projector to warn us of the perils of what he described at the ‘three-headed monster’ in Torts: indefinite liability, to an indefinite class for an indefinite sum. Many things have changed since then; but not John’s commitment to legal education, his love for teaching and his genuine concern for students.
Some of us have also had the honour of knowing John as both a colleague and as a dear friend. He is truly ‘one of a kind’, and this award recognises the influence that he has had on the lives of so many law students, colleagues and members of the legal profession over the years.”
Professor Robin Hickey
"It is difficult to overestimate John Stannard's contribution to legal education in Northern Ireland. Over five decades, countless law students have benefitted from his engaged and inspiring approach to teaching. Whenever I meet Queen's law alumni, his name is always amongst the first names of the impactful teachers that students remember. It will be strange not to say "yes!" when alums ask "Is John Stannard still teaching?", but his contribution will endure, and all of us – students and colleagues – are absolutely delighted for him as he begins a well-earned retirement."
Dr David Capper
"I first became acquainted with John in October 1978 when he was my Criminal Law tutor during the first year of my undergraduate degree. He was an amazing teacher back then and only got better as the years went by. It was doing the simple things like learning students' names and seeing anyone's efforts as glass half full that were his essence. John has had a lifelong relationship with the theatre but the only acting he did in class was playing the part that needed no rehearsal – himself. As a professional colleague I have been privileged to have taught and written with John. No more helpful or supportive colleague will you find. And in his writing and research he has been a colossal help to the practising lawyer in this jurisdiction and beyond."
"I have known John for almost 10 years now, he has an excellent sense of humour and loves to hear what's going on about QUB. I look after the appointment of Law School tutors and one of the first questions is often, is Dr Stannard still teaching in School, he taught me etc.
John is also the only person I know who doesn't go on beach holidays, he goes to places such as Norway just to see what it's like, we should all be more like him being so adventurous. He is a great asset to mooting in the School and has taught many teams over the years with great success. He also embraces new technology and can often be heard recording lectures in the one button studio."