Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

Book reviews

Adrian Briggs KC

Emeritus Professor of Private International Law, University of Oxford
LIFE AND CASES: MANUSCRIPT OF AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Frederick Alexander Mann, edited by Wolfgang Ernst. V&R unipress; Bonn University Press (2021) xvi and 230pp. plus 1 p. Bibliography. Hardback £36.99.
FA Mann came to England in 1933, when it became clear that Germany was determined to hurl itself into barbarity. He was not the only lawyer to do so, but he was one of the very few who went into practice as an English solicitor, and he is, surely, the solicitor whose life and legal practice is worth reading about. He died in 1991. In 2004, Lawrence Collins, a colleague from the partnership of Herbert Smith, offered a brilliant account of Dr Mann’s writings and cases, so far as in the public domain, in the volume entitled Jurists Uprooted: German-speaking Emigré Lawyers in Twentieth Century Britain (Beatson and Zimmermann, eds) (Oxford, 2004). Ten years later, Geoffrey Lewis, a close friend also from the partnership at Herbert Smith, wrote A Memoir (Oxford, 2013). This was a warm, urbane and soothing account of its subject: just by way of example, it observed (at 155) that Mann “was not entirely without the vanity which can sometimes walk with achievement”. It appeared that Mr Lewis had had access to certain family papers, but what these were was not made clear. It now appears that Dr Mann had prepared, and left behind, the manuscript of an autobiography. This has now, courtesy of the family and the Regius Professor of Civil Law in the University of Oxford, been published in unamended and unedited form under the aegis of the University of Bonn. It means that those who are interested—and there should be, and will surely be, many such—can read and hear what Dr Mann thought about the country, the legal system, the colleagues, the cases and the litigants, which made up his extraordinary career: can read, because the account is original first-hand written evidence, and can hear, because the voice which comes over the tannoy is that of Dr Mann and of nobody else. It is a remarkable document, and one of the very highest value. Those who caused or contributed to its becoming available have done us a great service.
The personal thread of Dr Mann’s life story is interesting enough: his conversion from Friedrich (Fritz) to Frederick to the Francis by which he was always known in England, at any rate, is explained (at 59). The fact that the journey of those who travelled in 1933 was less fraught than it was for those who left years later is not intended to trivialise the struggle and the accomplishment, which are never less than admirable; but it eased his path into the law, and for the lawyer it is his professional life which is captivating. His legal practice, set out by Mann in detail and in thematic form, was of the highest quality and uniquely interesting. For anyone interested in public and private international law, monetary law, acquisition, confiscation and restitution of property and more, it is a treasure trove, not least because it also shows how the best lawyer needs to have several


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