Walther Hug was born on 14 April 1898 in Rorschach (SG). Hug spent his youth in Wil (SG) and completed the grammar school in St. Gallen.
Walter Hug studied law and national economics at the universities of Zurich, Berlin and Bern. In 1924, he completed his doctorate in Zurich.
Five years later, Hug earned another doctorate at Harvard Law School (USA), where he was subsequently appointed Associate Professor. Between 1930 and 1931 he worked as privatdozent (lecturer) at the University of Zurich. Walther Hug was then appointed Full Professor of Private and Commercial Law at HSG.
In 1938, Hug was elected to be president of HSG. He was among the first who addressed the subject of commercial law in his inaugural speech, thus opening a discussion on the relationship between the economy and the state.
As president, Walther Hug promoted HSG’s further expansion and strengthened its reputation. He was involved in the development of the new Higher Education Act, which gave HSG the status of an institution under public law with the right to award doctorates. This step made HSG formally equal with Swiss universities.
During Walther Hug's presidency, several institutes were established, including the Seminar for Tourism and the Swiss Institute of Foreign Trade and Market Research. Although Hug moved to ETH in 1944, he kept his position at HSG as Dean of the Swiss Institute for Economic Structure and Market Research. He also continued to take on teaching and research tasks as part of his honorary professorship at HSG.
Walther Hug was involved in the development of the legislation on labour law and cartel law and served on several federal political committees. In 1946, he was offered a position of Federal Judge, which he declined to be able to further concentrate on his teaching and academic work. After his retirement, he worked for two years as Professeur Invité at the Faculty of Law at the University of Geneva.
During his lifetime, Hug founded the "Professor Walther Hug Foundation for the Promotion of Legal Research", to which he bequeathed a large part of his estate. Every year, the Foundation awards the Professor Walther Hug Prize for the best doctoral thesis in law. In addition to this the (Grand) Walther Hug Prize is also awarded, although with less regularity, to outstanding Swiss legal researchers.