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Rodrigo Uría González

Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences 1990

Rodrigo Uría González (Oviedo, Asturias, España, 1906 – Madrid, España, 2001), lawyer and specialist in mercantile law, was one of the greatest international authorities in this subject, both in his long-standing teaching work and in his fruitful career in research. He is the author of, among other works, text books which have served to train many generations of jurists.

After graduating in Law from the University of Oviedo with an extraordinary prize, he studied for his doctorate at the Central University of Madrid in 1930, obtaining top marks with an in-depth study of legislative delegation. With a grant from the "Junta de Ampliación de Estudios" ("Board for Further Study"), he subsequently specialised in mercantile law at various universities in the German Federal Republic and Italy, between 1931 and 1935.

Working as a teacher from the age of twenty-one, Uría was an assistant tutor in practical classes, associate lecturer and head of department, until, in 1943, he passed the selection examination for the chair of Merchant Law at the University of Salamanca. Shortly after, when the Faculty of Economics and Political Science was founded in the University of Madrid, Rodrigo Uría was called upon to lecture upon his discipline, obtaining the chair in a new selection examination in 1952. From then on he stayed there, teaching thousands of students, until his retirement in 1976.

His activities outside his daily teaching work have been carried on in many fields. A lecturer at numerous European and American universities, permanent spokesman of the "Comisión General de Codificación" ("General Commission for Legal Codes"), and a numerary member of the Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation, the authority of his criterion has been present in the main reforms which have given Spanish mercantile law its current aspect. He has also been vice-president of the International Association of Insurance Law, and board member of the Bank of Spain.

Among the many legislative commissions of which he has formed part, and of the innumerable studies and talks presented on these commissions, the "Anteproyecto de Reforma de la Sociedad Anónima" ("Draft Bill for the Reform of Limited Companies"), of which he was the co-author, is outstanding.

A working lawyer since 1940, he has acted in, among others, the well-known case of "Barcelona Traction", defending the interests of Spain before the Tribunal of The Hague.

A doctor honoris causa of the University of Oviedo (appointed in 1982), he is a holder of the Grand Cross of Alfonso X the Wise, and of the Order of San Raimundo de Peñafort.

Director of the Revista de Derecho Mercantil since its foundation in 1946, he was the author of numerous publications in his speciality, among which one could mention El seguro marítimo (1940), a classic book, even today unique in its genre, or Comentario a la Ley de Sociedades Anónimas (1952- 53), co-written with Professor Garrigues.

His treatise Derecho Mercantil, published in 1958 and re-edited on numerous occasions, has been adopted as a textbook by many university faculties, has inspired the admission programmes for various legal services, and, in short, has trained various generations of jurists in this discipline.

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