Peter A Allard School of Law

Statement on the passing of the Honourable Selwyn Romilly

Sep 27, 2023

Selwyn Romily
The Honourable Selwyn Romilly

Dear Allard Law Community, 

It is with great sadness that I share the news of the passing of the Honourable Selwyn Romilly (LLB ’66). Selwyn was one of the first Black graduates of the Faculty of Law at UBC and he attended law school during the turbulent 1960s when society – and certainly law schools – were incredibly hostile environments for Black youth. These challenging beginnings to his career make his subsequent achievements and contributions to the legal community all the more impressive.  

After graduating from UBC, Selwyn found success as a lawyer and was the first Black person appointed to the Provincial Court of British Columbia. As a Provincial Court judge, he could apply the law elegantly and with sophistication without losing perspective of the life story of the person before him. This application of judgment is the very essence of justice. In 1995 he was the first Black person appointed to the Supreme Court of British Columbia. When he retired, he had spent a combined 40 years as a jurist, well-respected and praised by his judicial peers and the legal community for his sense of justice, his high regard for the rule of law and his grace. You can learn more about his career on the Allard Law History Project

Consistent with his record of overcoming adversity, looking for opportunity, and advancing justice, Selwyn worked tirelessly to instill these values in law students and in young lawyers. He led by example with his character, his words and his actions. He was a passionate role model who inspired students and lawyers, especially Black students and lawyers, to achieve their professional dreams. Dedicated to creating a more representative justice system, he also helped establish Allard Law’s first student award dedicated to supporting incoming Black Canadian JD students

I will always be grateful to Selwyn for his mentorship of students at Allard Law. The Black Law Students’ Association of UBC co-president, Tinashe Muzah, reflected on Selwyn's legacy: “The Black Law Students' Association of UBC expresses our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Selwyn Romilly. Not only did he have an immeasurable impact on the greater legal community, he profoundly supported the Black students at Allard. Selwyn leaves behind a towering legacy embodied by his incomparable achievements and the people, such as ourselves, whom he mentored, supported, and inspired. May he rest in peace.” 

On behalf of the law school and all his friends at Allard Law, I offer our deepest condolences to Selwyn’s family and friends. There is no lawyer of colour in British Columbia, and no judge, who does not know, admire, and highly respect the work and the legacy of the Honourable Selwyn Romilly. 

Ngai Pindell 
Peter A. Allard School of Law 
University of British Columbia 

Peter A. Allard School of Law UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Caret A month-view page from a calendar. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. Contact A page from a rolodex. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. Instagram An arrow exiting a rectangle. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Mail An envelope. Minus A minus sign. Telephone An antique telephone. Play A media play button. Plus A plus symbol indicating more or the ability to add. Rss The logo for the Reddit social media service. Rss A symbol with radiating bars indicating an RSS feed. Search A magnifying glass. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service.