Alumni Short

Sir Basil Markesinis

Professor Sir Basil S. Markesinis is the matchmaker behind the gift from Cornell University Law School library to the Cour de cassation – France’s highest court – of the extensive law collection that will be known as the Cornell Center for Documentation on American Law.

The gift was made this spring, following conversations between Markesinis, Stewart Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean at Cornell Law School, and Claire Germain, the Edward Cornell Law Librarian at the Law School. It is being commemorated this July 17 at the Cour de cassation in the Palais de Justice in Paris.

“Sir Basil Markesinis was instrumental in helping leverage Cornell Law Library’s collection to enhance international relations between France and the United States,” said Germain.

A former visiting faculty member in comparative law at Cornell Law School, Markesinis currently is both chair of common and civil law at the University College London and the Jamail regents chair at the University of Texas at Austin.

Seeking greater intellectual cooperation and understanding between lawyers of different legal systems, he founded the Institutes of Anglo-American Law at the University of Leiden (1987), the Institute of European and Comparative Law at Oxford University (1995), the Institute of Global Law at University College London (2000) and the Institute of Transnational Law at the University of Texas at Austin (2000), where his Web site of important translated German and French decisions is now primarily housed.

Noelle Lenoir, the first woman justice in the French Constitutional Court, has described Markesinis as “a distinguished academic known for his bridge-building talents.”

In 2002 he was appointed Conseiller Scientifique du Premier Président de la Cour de Cassation, on matters of European law. In 2004 he was elected to the French Academy and also was awarded the rank of Commander in the Order of the Legion d’ Honneur by the French government. In 2005 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to international legal relations.” He has received high civic honors from the presidents of France, Germany, Greece and Italy as well.

Before his current academic appointments, Markesinis held, successively, the chair of European law and the chair of comparative law at Oxford University. He was chair for 15 years of Anglo-American law at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands; held the Francqui chair at the University of Ghent; and has been a faculty member at the University of Michigan Law School.

As a scholar, Markesinis has been author or co-author of 31 law books and more than 120 articles published in leading U.S. and European law journals. Appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1997, he practices law from Essex Court Chambers, specializing in tort litigation with an international focus.

Markesinis comes from a family that has been involved for more than 10 generations in politics, law and the world of letters, first in Venice and later in Greece. He holds a Doctor Iuris (doctor of laws) from the University of Athens, D. Phil. (doctor of philosophy) and an LL.D (doctor of laws) from Cambridge University and a D.C.L. (doctor of civil law) from Oxford University.