The University of Houston Law Center Faculty

Joseph  Dellapenna


Joseph Dellapenna

Joseph W. Dellapenna currently is a visiting professor at the University of Houston Law Center, having taught at law schools in the United States and abroad for 49 years. He retired from Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania in 2016 after 40 years as a Professor of Law there. He has been selected as a Fulbright Professor three times. He also teaches regularly at the University of Macau Faculty of Law and holds an appointment as an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia. He has practiced, taught, and written about water, both in the United States and internationally, for this entire period. He teaches on Managing the Water Environment, as well as on Admiralty, Chinese Law, Comparative Law, Conflicts of Law, Contracts, International Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, and Transnational Litigation. He has been a consultant to governments on four continents regarding water law reform and on transboundary water disputes. He represented the Connecticut Water Works Association in City of Waterbury v. Town of Washington, 260 Conn. 506, 802 A.2d 1102 (2002), persuading the Connecticut Supreme Court to adopt a significant reinterpretation of Connecticut water law.

Professor Dellapenna is Director of the Model Water Code Project of the American Society of Civil Engineers and served as Rapporteur of the Water Resources Committee of the International Law Association. As Director of the Model Water Code Project, he led the drafting of the Appropriative Rights Model Water Code and the Regulated Riparian Model Water Code, and supervised the preparation of Model Agreements for Sharing and Use of Transboundary Waters and Model Water Regulations for Administration and Trading in Humid Areas. As Rapporteur, he led the revision of the Helsinki Rules, the generally recognized summary of the customary international law on water resources, resulting in the International Law Association's Berlin Rules on Water Resources. He chairs the Water Regulatory Standards Committee and has chaired the Standards Development Council of the Environment and Water Resources Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He contributed about half of the five-volume treatise WATERS AND WATER RIGHTS, the standard reference on water law in the United States. He is the only contributor whose works appears in all five volumes. He has also written numerous other books and articles.

Professor Dellapenna is also internationally recognized as an authority on transnational litigation, particularly regarding suits against foreign governments or foreign-government-owned corporations in national courts. He is the author of SUING FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR CORPORATIONS (2nd ed., Transnational Publishers 2003), as well as numerous other books and articles. SUING FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS AND THEIR CORPORATIONS has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States in Saudi Arabia v. Nelson, 507 US 349 (1993) as definitive on its topic, as well as in numerous lower courts. He has chaired the ABA Committee on International Litigation, as well as the ABA Committees on Chinese Law and on International Environmental Law.

Professor Dellapenna received a B.B.A. with distinction from the University of Michigan in 1965, a J.D. cum laude from the Detroit College of Law in 1968, an LL.M. in Public International and Comparative Law from the George Washington University in 1969, and an LL.M. (Environmental Law) from Columbia University in 1974.