Versatile Trinity College law fellow who first came to Ireland as diplomat

DR GERNOT BIEHLER: DR GERNOT Biehler, who has died aged 48, was a member of the academic staff of the school of law in Trinity…

DR GERNOT BIEHLER:DR GERNOT Biehler, who has died aged 48, was a member of the academic staff of the school of law in Trinity College Dublin. A fellow of the college and lecturer in international law and conflicts of laws, he was the author of several books.

His international reputation as a legal scholar was influenced by his first career as a diplomat and was characterised by wide learning and sound judgment.

Prof David McConnell described Dr Biehler as a truly delightful person, “a scholar of great erudition in international law, a person who became more Trinity than Trinity”.

Senator Ivana Bacik described her colleague as somebody who loved lecturing in Trinity and “enjoyed immensely the ceremonial aspects of college life and threw himself into fellows’ meetings and internal college life with great enthusiasm”.


Born in Berlin, he was educated at Hamburg and Cambridge universities. He became an authority on both the civil and common law traditions and secured two doctorates in law.

After a term with the United Nations as a legal adviser, he served for more than 10 years as a diplomat with the German foreign service in New York, Kiev, Bonn, Berlin and Dublin. He taught at the universities of Heidelberg, Cologne and Kiev.

He first came to Ireland as a diplomat, but left the diplomatic service to join the Trinity law school in October 2006. He was an inspiring and devoted teacher and a highly valued supervisor of postgraduate students. A supportive and collaborative colleague, he embodied all the qualities of a great academic lawyer.

His contacts and reputation were particularly helpful to students who wanted to work internationally.

Elected a fellow within a short time of his arrival at Trinity, he participated fully in college life, frequently working late into the evenings and at weekends.

A gifted violinist, he played professionally in the Kiev Opera Symphony Orchestra when he was a diplomat in Ukraine. At Trinity he sang in the college choir. As a student he had been an oarsman and he supported the Trinity boat club. He held a pilot’s licence.

His main interests were international law, sustainable development and international trade. He contributed to a wide range of publications in German, English and Russian. He had strong views on the role of the academic lawyer in society and was a vigilant defender of academic freedom. His books include International Law in Practice: an Irish Perspective(2005).

He was a former president of the One World Organisation, the German foreign service charity association for development. He is survived by his wife, Hilary Delany, head of Trinity’s school of law.

Gernot Biehler: born March 22nd, 1961; died September 13th, 2009