In Loving Memory of Prof. James E. Byrne

This page is dedicated to the remembrance of Jim Byrne, whose kindness and wit touched the lives of many. Please feel free to share any stories, memories, or photos to this page.  

If you prefer to share private condolences, you may send them to RememberingJim@iiblp.org.

Posted by Andrey Kuznetsov on 5th August 2018
Professor Byrne, and not too long after meeting him just Jim, was my first mentor and provided support to a budding lawyer entering into a new precarious world. He was not only a tremendously accomplished professional, an intellectual titan, but also a kind and intelligent human being with a healthy sense of humor who knew how to live life to the fullest and contribute to the development of others. I recall helping Jim prepare editions of the Annual Review of International Banking Law & Practice, Standby and Demand Guarantee Practice and other topical publications and law articles during my time at the IIBLP. I also recall our stimulating conversations about among other things his time in Russia and the history of Ancient Rome. What struck me about Jim was his unique thinking about law and life in general which allowed anyone interacting with him to get a fresh new perspective on things and bring themselves closer to truth. My deepest condolences to Jim’s family, friends and colleagues. Jim has lived a truly worthy life. I sincerely hope that Jim’s memory and legacy lives on. Sit tibi terra levis - May the earth rest lightly on you, Jim.
Posted by James Barnes on 2nd August 2018
The financial, teaching and legal community have lost a giant. Professor Byrne was a warrior for fair play on a level playing field and contributed significantly to the financial services world of both commercial and standby letters of credit, the revisions of the ICC’s Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits and the creation of the ground-breaking International Standard Banking Practices and the International Standby Practices. His work on the revision of Article 5 of the Uniform Commercial Code in the United States, as well as the United Nations Convention on Independent Guarantees and Standby Letters of Credit is also well-known internationally. His leadership of the Institute for International Banking Law and Practice (IIBLP) and the impact of his books is legendary. Professor Byrne also served as an expert witness, fighting for clarity and application of the rules in a consistent manner. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim in 1994 during the creation of the International Standby Practices and participating regularly in the IIBLP’s seminars both in the United States and abroad. Following a seminar in New York, we occasionally walked the streets for hours discussing technical points and application of the letter of credit rules. Following Jim’ comment on the interpretation of a UCP article in a standby credit I gazed him in wonder. Jim, who had never issued a letter of credit, noticed the look on my face and inquired “What? Was I wrong?” I will always remember him from the grin on his face when I explained he had made a leap of logic that I would not have expected of a senior letter of credit banker with 15 or more years of experience. We have lost a kind, considerate, deep well of knowledge and a friend I will never forget.
Posted by Benjamin Geva on 31st July 2018
It is with great sadness that I heard of the death of a beloved colleague whom I cherished as a friend, supporter and educator -- who knew how to bring together practice and theory. His death is a big loss to the field and to human kind. I have been travelling and hence the delay in posting this message. Ben Geva, Toronto, Canada
Posted by Benjamin Geva on 31st July 2018
It is with great sadness that I heard of his death. He was a great colleague, great scholar, and great educator who was able to bring together both theory and practice. I cherished his friendship, support and dedication. It is a great loss. I have been travelling and hence the delay in posting this tribute. Ben Geva, Toronto, Canada
Posted by Bill Nartker on 26th July 2018
I'll never forget the first IIBLP conference I attended and how Jim called on me during the first session. I was terrified, but afterwards, I was glad that he recognized me and brought me in to the IIBLP group with open arms. Jim was funny. And I mean FUNNY! As so many have already mentioned, Jim is a giant in the LC world. I'll never forget the excitement of being invited to dinner with Jim after that first conference. I was in awe at the company I was surrounded by; especially Jim. Again, to be welcomed into the group so quickly and warmly is something that I will never forget. While I was terrified to open my mouth during dinner, for fear of saying something stupid, I enjoyed every minute of that dinner and every minute of the many IIBLP conferences that followed. It didn't take long to realize that there was nothing to fear around Jim. He was accepting and open to all comments and ideas. Jim was a wonderful mentor and will never be forgotten. There is a very large void to fill in the world today. Jim will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to Jim's family.
Posted by Lisa Chin on 23rd July 2018
Jim was a great mentor and friend. I owe at least 40% of my career to him due to his books and publications which I devoured. He was an expert in his field, but constantly wanted other's opinions in order to learn more. He was funny and kind and for me, his teasing of Jim Barnes was always a highlight of the Annual Survey every year. I will miss him so much.
Posted by Abdulkader Bazara on 19th July 2018
I met Professor Jim in 2002 in Hong Kong. I was introduced to him by Khalil Matar. Since then my knowledge of trade finance has completely changed. I have learned a lot from him. He give me and many others the platform and the chance to share our knowledge with others and learn from them. I am indebted to him for life.
Posted by Kevin McNiff on 15th July 2018
Jim was a wonderful friend and mentor. I first heard of him at a bar from a bartender/part-time law student, who told me that that no one knew more than Professor Byrne about trade finance. That recommendation led to a winter and then summer internship at the Institute, where I had the distinct pleasure of working with and learning from Jim, as well as Chris Byrnes and Matt Brown. Jim knew I didn't have a job after law school, and offered me a position at the Institute. Although I ended up taking a different path, I was exceedingly grateful for and touched by this gesture, which came at a difficult time in my career. Afterwards he still kept in touch, giving me other opportunities to develop a foothold in the practice area. Jim cared deeply for the well-being and development of his students , and was everything a teacher should strive to be. I count myself lucky to have been among his friends, and the world is a poorer place off without him. RIP Jim, and thank you again for everything. You've given me a lot to "pay forward," and I will do my best to follow your example.
Posted by James Barnes on 12th July 2018
I am adding this tribute to the article I co-authored with Jim Byrne surveying the 2017 developments in letter of credit law that will be published in the Business Lawyer (Vol. 73, Fall 2018). Jim Barnes In Memoriam Professor James E. Byrne Jim Byrne died at home with family on July 1, 2018. His passing brought forth tributes from letter of credit bankers and lawyers worldwide, including Fred Miller (chair of the Business Law Section’s UCC Committee and Executive Director of the Uniform Law Commission during the 1990’s revision of UCC Article 5) and Mike Avidon (current Chair of the UCC Committee’s Letter of Credit Subcommittee). Fred Miller’s tribute aptly emphasized the real world orientation of Jim Byrne’s career: “Jim was in every sense an extraordinary individual. While he chose to pursue an academic career and his teaching and academic writing soon brought him recognition as one of the foremost attorneys in his chosen legal field of letter of credit law, Jim was not a so-called "ivory tower" academic. For example, Jim was a major force in the Institute of International Banking Law and Practice which annually conducted continuing legal education courses on letter of credit cases and developments including book materials the equal of treatises which led him to be the author of the Hawkland UCC series on letter of credit law and practice, one of the leading commercial law works, as well as the annual surveys on letter of credit law in the American Bar Association annual surveys in the Business Lawyer on the UCC and letters of credit. But Jim was not satisfied with merely discussing the law. His work, which emphasized his view that not only the law but also the practice mattered, encompassed work on the International Standby Practices (ISP98) rules and those of the Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credits (UCP) and the revision of the basic letter of credit law in the United States, UCC Article 5, where he brought to the work top experts on letter of credit law and practice to advise the drafting committee of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws as to not only the appropriate statutory rules but also how they should interrelate to letter of credit practice. Nor were his efforts in this regard limited to the U.S. as he had an international view and worked on the United Nations Convention on Independent Guarantees and Standby Letters of Credit.” Jim Byrne could explain more about how LC bankers actually operate than any lawyer I ever met. He took his law students to New York to study bank LC operations. When he chaired the task force that launched the revision of UCC Article 5 in the 1990s, he made sure that it included non-lawyer LC bankers (who proved their worth to me and to others on the task force and again during the drafting of revised UCC Article 5). Blessed with great energy, Jim Byrne was central to the many accomplishments in the LC field, particularly during the 1990s. (I chronicled the harmonization then of domestic and international letter of credit law and practice in "Internationalization of Revised UCC Article 5 (Letters of Credit)", 16 [NW] J. INTL. L. BUS. 215 (1995).) Jim’s crowning achievement was the International Standby Practices, which was drafted over several years with help from bankers, lawyers, and others pulled together by Jim and which he later supported with educational programs, official commentary, and ISP98 forms to assure its widespread use. He organized yearly programs in Asia, as well as Europe and the Middle East. He contributed significantly to the Supreme People’s Court of China rules and provisions on independent undertakings in 2005 and 2016 and worked tirelessly to publish an annotated English translation. The tribute to Jim Byrne from the ICC Banking Commission closed with “Jim will be missed by the international banking community worldwide.” As co-author with Jim of the Business Lawyer LC survey since 1992, and collaborator or editor on most of his projects and publications since 1984, I will greatly miss him. Jim Barnes, July 2018
Posted by Sathya Subramanian on 10th July 2018
Prof Jim Byrne was a giant in the field of Trade Finance. He had the rare ability to make dry topics interesting! His knowledge and experience in this field were without parallel. He represented a rare combination of knowledge with dry wit - which is what enthralled audiences. He will be sorely missed. My deepest condolences to the family of Prof Byrne for this great loss. RIP!
Posted by Khalil Matar on 9th July 2018
I first met Jim on 11 July 2001 in Singapore. I remember the exact date and location because since then Jim made a huge impact on my understanding of Letters of Credit. I knew Jim as a unique individual. Very considerate. Very knowledgeable. A true human-being. I will miss Jim forever. What a loss to the world!
Posted by Daniel Smith on 8th July 2018
Professor Byrne (Jim) was such a great professor, advisor, mentor, and friend. He truly cared about his students’ academic and professional success. I was fortunate enough be given the opportunity to work for Jim at IIBLP as an intern, and to travel with him to Hong Kong, New York, and Alabama. I will miss Jim’s wit and sense of humor, which he maintained even as he was battling cancer. I am deeply saddened by Jim’s passing, and will cherish the memories we made together for the rest of my life. Rest in peace, Jim.
Posted by Sam Jebamony on 7th July 2018
Great mentor and friend. Will be sorely missed.
Posted by Gabriel Sham on 7th July 2018
Prof Byrne is unquestionably a giant in the documentary trade arena. His departure is a huge loss to the trade finance world. His intelligence, his humour and his friendliness will be sorely missed. Thank you Jim for what you have done.
Posted by Bogdan Ilie on 6th July 2018
Words seem inadequate to express the sadness I feel about Prof. James E. Byrne. He was and will always remain in my heart and soul the bighearted, friendly, gracious Professor always sharing his knowledge with joy and warmth.
Posted by Jingen Wang on 6th July 2018
It is really sad to hear the mournful news. I met Prof. James E. Byrne in Miami in April of this year. It was my first time and last time met him. But he remembered that I was studying letters of credit under the supervision of Prof. Xiang Gao and Prof. John F. Dolan. He told me if I have any questions I can feel free to contact him. I know he doesnot feel well so I thought I could wait till he feels better. But now he could never read and reply my email any more. Roc, Jingen Wang
Posted by David Morrish on 6th July 2018
I've known Jim for a number of years and in the last two or three worked closely with him. He was not just extremely knowledgeable on his chosen subjects but had a real ability to articulate clearly often difficult concepts. As recently as May this year I had the privilege of hearing him deliver a conference keynote address: the audience was spellbound. Most of all though I enjoyed his company and his wonderful sense of humour. He seemed to have time for everyone. I will miss him. I already do.
Posted by Lin Yang on 6th July 2018
Professor Byrne was a great instructor in the area of international commercial law and had been a mentor to me during my law school years and beyond. He was definitely one of the best and most knowledgeable expert in the practice of letters of credit. He was a nice person and always willing to help. He will be dearly missed. My deepest sympathies to his family and the fellow colleagues of IIBLP.
Posted by Xiang Gao on 6th July 2018
I am so sorry to hear the sad news of Professor Byrne! He was such a giant in the field of law of trade finance, who worked tirelessly for decades and achieved so much in the field! He was always warm, friendly and generous. I’ll never forget those moments we were together in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore for the LC Surveys, or in Vienna or Dubai either for Commercial Fraud Symposiums or ICC Banking Commission Meetings, or in his home in Montgomery Village or my home in Beijing or Canberra with our family members. I’ll never forget our moments together in Miami in April this year, which sadly became our meeting! I’ll always remember him with love and fondness!
Posted by Mark Warren on 5th July 2018
These tributes are a testament to how Jim touched so many lives, including mine. He was always so gracious and generous sharing wisdom in a field for which many of us share a passion, and always with his signature spark of kind irreverence. I am grateful for having known him, and this world is a lesser place without him, bless his soul. My deepest sympathies to Jim's family and IIBLP colleagues on this sad loss.
Posted by Kunihiko Minakuchi on 5th July 2018
It was the fall of a great star. We remind him of our Japanese edition of ISP98 published in September 2011 after so many questions to him and his colleagues. He came to Japan for a lecture at that time, he was slightly worrying about his cancer he had. May his soul rest in peace. Our Deepest sympathy to his family and his members of IIBLP.
Posted by Alan Davidson on 5th July 2018
Jim was a great colleague, an inspiration and I am honoured to call him my friend. He will leave behind his indelible stamp on the field of letters of credit, standbys and guarantees. Jim was affable, generous and patient. I will recall many moments with great fondness: including dinner one Halloween at his house and an Aussie BBQ at my home in Brisbane. From our first meeting in London in 1999 at an Institute’s Survey through more than a dozen cities around the world Jim has been a mentor, a leader and confidante. He had the ability to hone in on legal and practical issues and provide his insight and wisdom to a welcoming audience. His writings, labours and orations will long be remembered for their positive contributions and perception. My wife, my daughters and I will remember Jim always, with love and fondness.
Posted by Andrew Lam on 5th July 2018
Jim, we will never forget your kindness and profound contribution to the industry. With my deepest sympathy!
Posted by Frankie Li on 4th July 2018
I know Jim more than 10 years from the Hong Kong Annual Survey. Someone as special as "Jim" will never be forgotten. He will remain in our hearts forever. My deepest sympathy to his family....
Posted by MP Tsim on 5th July 2018
Very sorry to read the sad news of Professor Bryne. By his untimely passing, the trade finance industry worldwide has lost one of its best leaders. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. My sympathy to his family members and associates in IIBLP.
Posted by Zhongmin Zha on 5th July 2018
Our great sadness to hear this mournful news. Mr. James E. Byrne has made excellent contributions to LC law and practice. Please relay our condolence to his family! Kind Regards. Zhongmin Zha Xiang Gao Chee Seng Soh Hongsheng Zhu Bin Liu Saibo Jin
Posted by Janis Penton on 4th July 2018
Jim had such a positive impact on my life. My favorite memory is when, as taskforce chair, he called to ask if I was going to the ABA meeting where our report had to be presented. I said I didn’t want to and his response was “that’s as close as I’ve heard to ‘yes,’ so, thanks for volunteering.” It was hard to say ‘no’ to Jim, so off I went. In addition to all the professional projects we worked on, Jim was there for me for personal as well as work times; when my life was in turmoil and when all was well. I am grateful he was my friend.
Posted by Sue Auerbach on 4th July 2018
I remember the first time I walked into one of the IIBLP Annual Survey conferences years ago. A hotel ballroom full of strangers, and a subject where my knowledge verged on the basic. I introduced myself to Jim Byrne, who immediately made me feel welcome and valued. His knowledge was immense, his friendliness, warmth and kindness even greater. He had a knack for making people comfortable, for getting many different people to work together, for explaining complicated subjects, for chairing large and small meetings with both efficiency and humor. He was a superb teacher, both in and out of the classroom. He was a giant in his field, an easy person to talk to, and always approachable and interested. I admired him so much, and valued his friendship and guidance. I feel very fortunate to have known him.
Posted by Pierre Herszdorfer on 4th July 2018
I've been retired from banking for the past 14 years and I will never forget Jim. I was one of his banking friends. For years, I enjoyed visiting with Jim personally at the Annual Letter of Credit Surveys (NYC-DC-FL) as well as at the Annual IFSA conferences which he, at times, attended. We will all miss him.
Posted by Boris KOZOLCHYK on 4th July 2018
Jim was and will be for as long as I live a dear friend and soul mate: A source of inspiration for doing what is good in the law and in life. Were it not for Jim many good things would not have happened in my life. I am certain that my experience with Jim is shared by many others in many places around the world. What an example of a life well lived! Dear friend, the only feeling I am capable of expressing now to you, your family and friends is captured by the Spanish saying : Hasta mas ver (Until further seeing) With much love, BK
Posted by Ana Kavtaradze on 4th July 2018
I can recall meeting professor Byrne first time in Dubai the my unforgettable impression he left after our discussion on trade finance instruments including Standby LC's. All this is secondary of course but the passion, professionalism and the attention to my examples as well as the feedback afterwards was very memorable and rear to see the fired eyes and love to the profession and it was truly inspirational. RIP Jim Byrne, you are a great loss and will be very much missed.
Posted by Lawrence Eichman on 4th July 2018
Professor Byrne had a great impact on me during my 40 years in International Trade. I enjoyed our banter with our opinions on Trade Credits, Standbys and Bankers Acceptance practice/law. His seminars were the best in the business. He always made me feel I was somebody when I was nobody. It was an honor to have known him.
Posted by Michael Avidon on 4th July 2018
Jim was obviously a giant in the letter of credit field but I will remember Jim best for his friendship, his drive, his inspiration, his sense of humor, and his guidance and help. Rest in peace Jim, I am so glad that we met.
Posted by Kim Sindberg on 4th July 2018
It is hard to express in words how much I admired Jim. The intellect, the sharpness, the knowledge and the wit were simply breath taking. Personally, I had the privilege of his friendship and know Jim as a kind and caring person always with a witty and sharp remark. I could go on forever, but will only say that there will never ever be another James E. Byrne. Never. And I will miss him for the rest of my life.
Posted by David Meynell on 4th July 2018
Jim was a massive influence on our work and a legend in the industry. I am happy that I can always recall many great times working with him on Drafting Groups and other ICC work since the 90’s. He will be sorely missed. RIP Jim, you were a wonderful friend.
Posted by Chris Sandler on 3rd July 2018
For many years, Jim has been a mentor, confidante, and role model to me. We first met when I was shoveling snow from his driveway after a blizzard - just a 20 year old kid trying to make some extra money. From our very first conversation, I was struck by his genuine interest in my life and my thoughts on all manner of things. It was as if from our first meeting, he decided that my opinions were valuable, and that I had much to contribute to the world. It's hard to understate the impact this had on me as a somewhat troubled young man. Jim's manner of treating me like an equal, while simultaneously (and delicately) reminding me to keep my ego in check, continued on until the end. Perhaps it sounds trite, but Jim helped show me what means to be a man. In our talks about life, parenthood, philosophy, and anything else, he was always a trusted sounding board and mentor. I learned a great deal from you Jim, and I'm eternally grateful for it. With love, Chris

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