skip to content

By Lesley Dingle and Daniel Bates

Emeritus Professor Christopher Forbes Forsyth

  • Born: 1949, England of South African parents
  • 1969-75: University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg)
  • 1972: BSc Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics including two years of Economics
    • (First class result in first year; upper second results in remaining years.)
  • 1975: LLB Roman-Dutch Law
  • 1972-75: Mathematics Tutor
  • 1975: Temporary Law Lecturer
  • 1975-77: University of Cambridge, Gonville &Caius
  • 1977: LLB in Judicial Review of Administrative Action, Civil Liberties, Conflict of Laws and Comparative Law
  • 1977: University of Canterbury, Christchurch, NZ
    • Lecturer in Law
  • 1978-81 University of Cape Town
    • Senior Lecturer in Roman-Dutch Law
  • 1982-84: University of Cambridge, Gonville & Caius
    • PhD. "The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa from 1950". Supervised by Colin Turpin.
  • 1983-present: Cambridge University, Fellow in Law (1983-present), Robinson College
  • 1983-2002: Director of Studies
  • 1988-2000: University Lecturer in Law
  • 2000-05: University Reader in Public Law
  • 2005-16: Professor of Public Law and Private International Law
  • 2016-present: Emeritus & inaugural Sir David Williams Professor of Public Law
  • University of Stellenbosch
  • 2002-15: Extraordinary Professor in Public Law
  • 2015-present: Honorary Professor
  • Universities in Hong Kong
  • 2005-present: Honorary Member Advisory Board to the Faculty of Law of the Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • 2017-19: Cheng Yu Tung Visiting Professor in Law at the University of Hong Kong


  • 2003: Inner Temple. Bencher
  • Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa
  • 2004: Recorder (part-time judge) on the South Eastern Circuit, England
  • Deputy High Court Judge in the Administrative Court

Other duties

  • 1976-80: Secretary and Member of the Acta Juridica Editorial Board
  • 1979: Convenor of the First International Conference on Human Rights in South Africa, Cape Town
  • Consultant Editor "Family Guide to the Law", 750 page guide to the South African legal system. written for the layman
  • 1990-present: Member, Editorial Committee, Cambridge Law Journal, Sub-editor 1993-96
  • Member of the Robinson College Council, & Finance and Investment Committees, tutor, Praelector
  • 1993: Convened a one day conference on Law Commission’s Working Paper on Judicial Review
  • 1998: Initiated, organised conference “Constitutional Reform in the Uk: Practice and Principles”, Cambridge, proceedings published by Hart Publishing
  • 1999: Initiated, organised conference “The Foundations of Judicial Review”, Cambridge, proceedings published by Hart Publishing
  • 2003: Initiated, organised conference "Judicial Reform: Function, Appointment and Structure", Cambridge
  • 2008: Initiated, organised conference “Effective Judicial Review: A Cornerstone of Good Governance”, Hong Kong


  • Working with or advising governments over constitutional developments in several (mostly Commonwealth) countries
  • Taught “Administrative Law and the Civil Service” at the Civil Service College to train civil servants for the reformed South Africa
  • Evidence to the SA Law Commission on the reform of the judiciary at the time of the political changes
  • Evidence on the judiciary to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa
  • Advised the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development of Sri Lanka on constitutional reform
  • Evidence to the Committee on Standards and Privileges to advise on the reform of their procedures following the Hamilton case (See HC633(1997-98) and HC1191 (1997-98))
  • British delegation (Foreign Office Funded) to a Workshop on Administrative Law held in March 1998 in Ukraine on the reform of Administrative Law
  • Government of Malawi Technical Adviser on Constitutional Reform to the Law Commission during July and September 1998, advised the Minister of Justice and prepared briefings for the President on constitutional
  • Advised the Hong Kong government on questions of constitutional and administrative law
  • Evidence to the South African Law Commission on questions of private international law

Appointments, University of Cambridge

  • 1988: Pro-Proctor
  • 1989-90: Proctor
  • 1990-92: Deputy Proctor
  • 2002: Pro-Proctor
  • 2003-04: Proctor
  • 2003-04: Chairman, Board of Scrutiny
  • 1992-4: Deputy University Advocate
  • 1994-97: University Advocate.
  • 1996: Panel for Review Committees re. Examinations for Postgraduate Qualifications
  • 1994-97, 1999-2003: Member of the Law Faculty Board
  • 2000-02: Manager African Studies Centre (& Acting Director, Chairman)
  • 2003-: Manager Smuts Memorial Fund

Public authorities

  • 1989-95: University Representative on the Cambridgeshire Police Authority
  • 1995-2003: Independent on the Cambridgeshire Police Authority
  • 2000-2010: Independent member Cambridgeshire County Council’s Standards Committee, Chairman 2007

Prizes etc

  • 1976,1982,1983: Gonville and Caius Graduates' Prize for Research
  • 1974: Pietermaritzburg Attorneys Association Prize (for mooting)
  • 1979: Hague Academy of International Law Scholarship for Study at the Peace Palace
  • 1979: Attorneys, Notaries and Conveyancers Fidelity Guarantee Fund Bursary for the Study of Private International Law
  • 1981-83: Gonville and Caius Tapp Research Studentship
  • 1982-83: Overseas Research Student Award, awarded by Her Majesty's Government
  • 1982-83: Grant from the Anglo American and De Beers Chairman's Fund
  • 1985: British Academy Research Award for the Study of the Constitutional Status of the Police