UCL Faculty of Laws


Tribute to Professor Valentine Korah

7 August 2023

UCL Laws pays tribute to Professor Valentine Korah as a trailblazing and highly esteemed law professor in the UK and Europe.

Val Korah

It is with sadness that we share the news that Professor Valentine Korah passed away on 25 July.

Professor Valentine Korah (Professor of Competition Law at UCL Laws) was one of the first three female law professors in the UK, and the first at UCL.

Professor Korah studied Law at UCL, graduating with an LLB in 1949; an LLM in 1951; and a PhD in 1965. In 1954, she was called to the Bar and she remained at UCL Laws for much of her academic career. In 1964, Professor Korah and economist Basil Yamey of LSE established the first postgraduate taught course on competition law and policy. She taught a range of subjects from 1951 until she formally retired in 1993. After, she was appointed as Emeritus Professor of Competition Law, teaching competition law and policy on a part-time basis. In addition, as Visiting Professor of Competition Law, Professor Korah taught in prestigious institutions across the world.

Professor Korah’s contribution to the legal world was far-reaching, and her work benefitted many competition law scholars and researchers. She had a long and illustrious career in law, in which she facilitated collaboration between lawyers and economists. In 1970, Professor Korah worked as a civil servant to help draft a Bill to replace the UK Monopolies and Mergers Commission and to modify the legal framework. She drafted instructions to Parliamentary Counsel and notes on clauses on the Commission of Industry and Manpower Bill of 1970, which were used when the Fair Trading Bill was passed. In 1973, she advised the Price Commission quango, which was established to control inflation. Professor Korah continued to teach on a full-time basis at UCL while holding both appointments.

Professor Korah wrote extensively on competition law and the European Community. She has published numerous books throughout her career, including her most recent publication Competition Law: Analysis, Cases, & Materials (Oxford University Press 2019).

In 2019, she was featured in UCL Laws’ 100 Years of Women in Law campaign in recognition of her pioneering achievements which have paved the way for future generations of women working in law.

Paying tribute to Professor Korah, Professor Sir Jeffrey Jowell KCMG KC said:

“I first encountered Val at a seminar at the LSE when I was teaching there in the mid-seventies. She had been recommended as an expert and pioneer in what was then called monopolies and restrictive practice law (now competition law). I was immediately struck by her razor-sharp intellect, high eloquence, and piercing laugh. She relished an exchange of views with her audience. When one of them would advance a dubious proposition, she always gave them another chance to “convince me”. When I became Dean of the UCL Law Faculty I had no hesitation in proposing her to the College for promotion to professor; the first woman Chair in the Law Faculty. Val was renowned for her clear and critical lectures. She was a figure of huge affection and admiration who raised the reputation of UCL - in the UK and all over Europe.”

Professor Ioannis Lianos said:

“Valentine Korah has made a foundational contribution to the emergence of competition law as a separate legal field in Europe and the UK. In fact, one cannot think of EU competition law and its transformation the last six decades without thinking of the work of Valentine Korah. She taught generations of students and scholars in competition law at UCL, at the College of Europe in Bruges, at Fordham University and many other Universities around the world who were profoundly influenced by her work and teachings. Her passion for her field but also her original and friendly personality, her genuine interest for the professional development of her students and young colleagues, her wit and generosity made her a much beloved teacher, colleague, mentor and friend. The global community of competition law but also the competition law community at UCL is much poorer today. Rest in peace, Val."

Professor Lianos has written a tribute to Professor Korah, which is available to read online: 

Dr Deni Mantzari commented:

“I was incredibly fortunate to meet Valentine Korah first as an LLM student, and later as her research assistant during my PhD studies at UCL Laws. Valentine was a towering figure, but she was also a friend and a mentor to me and to the countless number of students who studied competition law at UCL Laws for over half a century. She was a remarkable teacher, who cared deeply about her students’ careers and potential, always probing them to think harder and deeper. ‘Convince me!’ was her much invoked phrase during our joint tutorials in competition law. Her commitment to our Faculty was truly admirable. She was also a role model, especially for young, aspiring women in the field, being herself the first Chair in Competition Law at UCL Laws, and one of the first women appointed to a Chair in Law in the UK.

“Valentine was also an excellent lawyer, and the many hours we spent revising drafts – sometimes over bread and jam - were a highlight of my first years as a PhD student. She was a prolific writer, with her books and articles gathering attention as she wrote clearly and authoritatively about both the legal and the economic aspects of competition law. Her legacy is one of powerful and forward-looking scholarship, being the first in Europe to introduce interdisciplinary (law and economics) thinking into competition law, but also of immense generosity and kindness, especially towards early career academics. Her sad passing is a huge loss to our community. We will miss her deeply.”

Professor Korah’s passing is a huge loss to those who knew her, the Faculty, and to the legal world. Our thoughts are with Professor Korah’s family during this difficult time.

CLES staff and students
 Image: Professor Korah with Competition Law students and Faculty staff, taken in 2018