Law School Remembers Sir Basil Markesinis, Longtime Professor and Leading Scholar

Sir Basil Markesinis; photo taken from his obituary at

Sir Basil Markesinis, former Jamail Regents Professor at the School of Law, has passed away at the age of 78.

Basil Markesinis was born in Athens. He was educated at the University of Cambridge and taught there afterwards, as well as at Michigan, Cornell, and many other universities in addition to Texas.

His scholarship was broad and prolific. He was the author or co-author of more than 40 books on topics ranging from comparative tort law to ancient Greek thought. He likewise taught memorable courses on many different topics, including a favorite of students at the Law School: Good and Evil in Art and Law, based on Markesinis’s book of the same name.

“Basil Markesinis was a remarkable colleague and a world-renowned scholar,” said Bobby Chesney, Dean of the Law School. “Few faculty members anywhere could match his extraordinary range of erudition and ability. He enhanced our school, and the legal academy, in so many ways. He will be greatly missed.”

Markesinis made special contributions to the school’s relationships across national boundaries. Ward Farnsworth, former Dean of the Law School, attributed many of the school’s most valuable international relationships to Markesinis’s work.

“Basil did as much as any other single faculty member to raise our school’s international stature,” Farnsworth said. “He created programs that brought outstanding judges and scholars here from Germany and elsewhere, and those friendships live on.”

One of Markesinis’s enduring contributions to the law school was his founding of  the Texas Law Institute of Transnational Law, which continues now under the leadership of Assistant Dean Lauren Fielder, and which continues to bring jurists and academics to Austin from several European countries. The Institute is also the home to Markesinis’s database of foreign law translations, a collection of English translations of legal decisions from Austria, France, Germany, and Israel.

“Professor Markesinis was a visionary who had a profound impact on the field of comparative law,” reflected Fielder. “He enhanced the study and practice of comparative law, and transformed the field. His legacy will endure through the continuing impact of his work and the many lives he touched.”

Markesinis is also remembered fondly as a one-of-a-kind teacher and committed friend.

“Sir Basil was the instigator of exchange programs that sent several hundred of our law students to law schools in England over a period of about 25 years and brought a large number of English law students to Texas,” recalled Emeritus Prof. David Anderson. “He also promoted exchanges of faculty between the Law School and English universities, including the University of Cambridge, Queen Mary College, and University College London, and he was a tireless ambassador for international understanding of law.”

Anderson added, “More than that, he was a loyal and generous friend.”

Category: Faculty News