In Memoriam Professor Jānis Rozenfelds 1946–2022
Professor Jānis Rozenfelds
Photo: Boriss Koļesņikovs
Professor Jānis Rozenfelds was taken from us last year on the eternally moving wings of time: he passed away in the 77th year of his life on 21 November 2022. His lifetime was firmly linked with the University of Latvia since the 1960s of the last century, when he started his legal studies, and continued with rich and fruitful academic, scientific, and organisational work spanning many decades – from 1972 till his last breath.
Professor Rozenfelds was a well-known and recognised civil law scholar raising new generations of lawyers by means of his active, experience-based, and enthusiastic teaching of different legal courses. Amongst the most important courses taught by Professor, one may mention Law of Things (dedicated to Latvian civil law and its teaching following the Roman tradition), Roman Civil Law, and Intellectual Property Law. He mainly taught in Latvian, however, his teaching covered also courses in English, intended for visiting foreign students. He taught students at all study levels, i.e., bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programmes. The latter type of studies allowed Professor to raise seven legal scholars, whose doctoral theses were supervised by himself. The author of these lines was one of these seven scholars, and his first doctoral student who successfully defended a doctoral thesis twelve years ago, in 2011.
In this regard, it is worth mentioning that recently Professor’s son approached me with an inquiry whether I thought that an AI generated voice of his father could resemble his teaching. My answer was negative: perhaps, the words could describe Professor’s ideas, however, he would never use such words by himself. I was rather sure of my answer, having known him for more than 20 years in different situations, such as being his student and working with him closely in a university and in legal practice. At the very moment of giving my answer, I realised that his teaching style cannot be repeated: his excellent sense of humour, profound knowledge of a subject, and vast experience enabled him to explain things as none other could. It would be true to say that his style of teaching resembled the posture of a classical Roman lawyer – this comparison is not a coincidence, as it reflects his dedicated teaching of Roman civil law and interest of Rome.
His teaching was successfully supplemented with research – mainly in legal areas of his teaching. He was an author of several monographs, including well known and widely cited textbooks in Latvian. His textbook on law of things is amongst the most cited publications in Latvian court rulings, as testified by the online database of anonymised Latvian court rulings. Another monograph, which was published online by Kluwer shortly before his passing away, dealt with property law in Latvia. He was also one of the most active contributors to this journal, and his articles were published in numerous issues. His last article was printed in the very last issue – No. 15 of the last year, and it explored liability for unlawful use of a trademark.
Professor enthusiastically carried out organisational duties in addition to his academic and scientific work in different internal institutions of the university. These duties included the position of the Head of the Civil Law Department for two consecutive terms and the Head of the Professors’ Council for five years. His last official public duties included service as the Head of the Doctoral Council (since 2005) and the Head of the Council of the Faculty of Law (since 2011).
In addition to his life at the University of Latvia, Professor was resolute and successful in his legal practice as an attorney, which spanned almost 30 years. His assistance was sought by different clients in a vast variety of complicated disputes, mainly – in civil law. The disputes led him to litigation before different courts of Latvia since the 1990s, including the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court. Legal practice also allowed Professor to raise the future attorneys, who today successfully work in the field of law, – some of them lead law firms, or act as partners therein.
For his distinguished academic, scientific, and practical work, he was decorated with several significant awards of the State and the University of Latvia. These merits include the Cross of Recognition awarded to him in 2012 for an outstanding contribution to the restoration of the legal system of the Latvian State, strengthening of democracy and the rule of law, development of legal science and education in Latvia.
Just like a human lifetime, the lines written to honour the memory of the Professor end in due course. At the conclusion, the author of these lines repeats the words said on a previous occasion in remembrance of Professor Jānis Rozenfelds: “Professor leaves behind thankful students, admiring colleagues, supporting family members, continuing to live in his publications, recordings of his speeches, class materials, scientific ideas, academic approaches, memories”.
Dr. Vadim Mantrov
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Latvia
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 University of Latvia
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.