Pierre Lalive d’Epinay


1990 Balzan Prize for Private International Law

For his original and fundamental contribution to the theory of private international law and for the impetus given by his teaching, his engagement and his works to the application of this theory and the resolution of the problems of modern societies in change.

Professor Pierre Lalive d’Epinay (*1923 - †2014) was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds (Neuchhtel, Switzerland). He distinguished himself in his home country and at an international level not only by his teaching and his scientific work but also by his constant endeavours to develop and to apply private international law in a historical period in which relations between States and societies were changing rapidly and profoundly. He did not confine himself to observations, explanations, or comments, but with his thirst for knowledge, his sensitivity to the dynamics of change he became popular as an “innovative “jurist; his scientific activity is evident within the traditional fields of private international law as well as disciplines in evolution such as material private international law, commercial international law and transnational law.
The lecture he gave in 1977 at the Hague Academy of International Law has been considered as a “fundamental contribution” to the theory of private international law and to the problems of the method. The demonstration of his capacity of synthesis is only possible and credible by the measure with which he has committed himself to cover the wide field of private international law as a diligent professional and as a concerned citizen. He participated in the elaboration of the Swiss federal law of 1987 on private international law, acts by writing and daily engagement in favour of petitions to international arbitration, plays a pioneering role in researches of the application of public foreign law identifying, long before other jurists, the purport of the development of transnational relations and the necessity of studying in a systematic way the overall problem imposed by the constant internationalisation of the activities of a modern State and of the private sector as well as their interaction.
From among Professor Lalive’s wide ranging interests we would also mention his participation in the work of the juridical Committee of INTELSAT, of which he is President and the conferences on the juridical aspects of the international commerce of art which he promoted. These are two significant examples of his intellectual vivacity and his concern to base any evaluation of the coordinative role that private international law assumes within the international community on case studies.

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