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Professor Gordon Woodman has been made a Member of the Order of the Volta, one of the highest honours of the Republic of Ghana. At the ceremony, President Mahama noted that the recipients had “impacted positively towards the growth and development of this country…[and]…continue to share your experiences with the current generation and beyond.” 

Professor Gordon Woodman being presented with the Order of the Volta by the deputy High Commissioner for Ghana in December 2016

The deputy High Commissioner for Ghana presents the Order of the Volta to Professor Gordon Woodman.

Professor Woodman went to Ghana in 1961 to work on his PhD on customary land law in the country, shortly after Ghana became a republic. Following his doctoral studies there, Professor Woodman spent a short period of time lecturing in Nigeria, before returning to the University of Ghana, where he became an Associate Professor. He was the editor of the University of Ghana Law Journal, and edited the Ghana ‘Land Cases’ law reports, which are still cited today. His work on customary land law in Ghana has been extremely influential, and his book Customary Land Law in the Ghanaian Courts as well as his 2nd edition of Ollennu’s Principles of Customary Land Law in Ghana remain authoritative texts in the jurisdiction.

Woodman’s work goes far beyond Ghanaian law. He is one of the world’s most important authors on customary law, and on the law of Africa, and a pioneering scholar of legal pluralism. His body of work includes both academic books and articles, and reports for governments, NGOs, and the World Bank. He has frequently given expert evidence in the English courts on questions of Ghanaian law. His world-leading research has previously been recognised with, among other things, honorary doctorates from the University of Bayreuth (Germany) and the University of Ghana. 

Professor Woodman joined Birmingham in 1976, and remains the Emeritus Professor of Comparative Law, and an active member of the School. The Head of School, Professor Robert Lee, remarked “Gordon Woodman is one of the world’s leading legal scholars, and a dedicated and committed teacher. Birmingham Law School is proud of the enormous contribution that his work has made to the Ghanaian legal system, and continues to have a strong relationship with, and attract doctoral students from, Ghana largely due to the high esteem in which Gordon is rightly held there. We congratulate him warmly for this much deserved honour”.