Professor Emeritus Brian Coote is by general consent a leading figure in legal education and scholarship in New Zealand. During his career at the University of Auckland, where he taught for 34 years, he influenced the applications of contract law not only in New Zealand, serving for 20 years on the Contracts and Commercial Law Reform Committee, but throughout the Commonwealth. His early book, Exception Clauses (1964), had an immediate impact and its arguments about contractual exclusions of liability were ultimately accepted by both academics and the highest courts in all Commonwealth jurisdictions, including the British House of Lords.
He continued to publish voluminously throughout his career, with influential discussions appearing in English, Canadian and Australian journals as well as in New Zealand. Two recent articles, written after his retirement and published in two of the top-rated law journals in the UK, in the Cambridge Law Journal (1997) on contract damages and in the Law Quarterly Review (2001) on the problem of loss, testify to the ongoing excellence of his scholarship as well as to his growing emphasis on “performance interest” in awarding damages for breach of contract. There have also been two recent books, one a history of the Auckland Law School (2009) and the other, Contract as Assumption Hart, Oxford (2010) a collection of some of his articles edited by Professor Rick Bigwood. His peers insist that despite the sometimes brief nature of his many publications, they collectively constitute a totally exceptional contribution to the field of contract law.
During a long career that has gained such international prestige, Professor Coote is also revered for his continually generous support for his local colleagues and profession. He is regarded as being truly one of the first-movers in his field in New Zealand.