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August 30, 2006

Press Contacts: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330

French Republic Awards Grand Cross of Merit to Sir Basil Markesinis

Texas law professor honored for his contribution to comparative law

Grand Croix Medal

Grand Croix Sash

AUSTIN, Texas—The French Republic has awarded its Grand Cross of Merit to Professor Sir Basil Markesinis QC, DCL, FBA, of The University of Texas at Austin and the University College London for 40 years of exceptional services to the study of foreign and European law.

The Grand Cross of Merit is the highest ranked award within the French National Order of Merit. The Order was instituted by decree in 1963 with the President of the Republic serving as its Grand Master.

There are five classes within the order: Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer, and Knight. The Grand Cross represents its highest rank, and is typically reserved for Prime Ministers and Nobel Prize winners. This is the first known instance of a professor at The University of Texas receiving this honor. Indeed, it is believed that no such award has been made to an English Professor, either.

President William Powers of The University of Texas at Austin said, "Professor Markesinis is an extraordinary scholar and teacher. I join the entire university community in congratulating him on the occasion of this high honor. We are privileged to have Sir Basil serve on our faculty."

Dean Lawrence Sager of the UT School of Law said, "We are very lucky to have Sir Basil Markesinis as a member of the UT School of Law community. He is a distinguished, erudite, scholar and teacher, whom we are deeply pleased to have as a colleague.” Sager continued, “The Grand Cross of Merit is a singular honor, and is yet another validation of the high regard in which we hold Professor Markesinis.”

Sir Basil stated, "I am delighted with the award of a very rare honour which is usually reserved only for Prime Ministers and Nobel Prize winners and which is thus held by a very small number of people. But what gives me enormous pleasure is the fact that it was given to me in large part for the work we have done in Texas under the firm and inspiring leadership of the President of the University Professor Bill Powers and Dean Sager who also has a very open mind and indicated to me his continued support for the growing internationalisation of this great University. Thanks to the activities of the Institute of Transnational Law, which Professor Powers entrusted in my care a few years ago, and thanks also to the unflinching support of the M.D. Anderson Foundation and of my good friends Joe and Lee Jamail and Gib Gayle, we are flying the Texas flag high, making people outside the USA realise what those within the USA already know namely, that this great centre of excellence is unstoppably moving to the very top of the apex of academic institutions. I think it is especially gratifying to us all - and this is very much a team effort - to see that in this exercise the University and the Law School are now receiving the admiration they richly deserve."

About Professor Sir Basil Markesinis:

Basil Markesinis is an honorary QC and holds doctorates or honorary doctorates from (in alphabetical order) Athens, Cambridge, Ghent, Munich, Oxford, and Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne). After holding successively the Chairs of European Law and then Comparative Law at the University of Oxford, where he founded the Oxford Institute of European and Comparative Law, he then moved to University College London to the Chair of Common and Civil Law, which he holds simultaneously with the (part-time but tenured) Jamail Regents Chair at The University of Texas at Austin.

He has authored or co-authored thirty one books and over one hundred and twenty legal articles, which have been published in leading law journals in America, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands. He has lectured extensively in twenty-five different law faculties including Cornell, Ghent, Leiden, Michigan, Munich, Paris I, Paris II, Rome, and Siena, where he has held Visiting Professorships. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Belgian and the Royal Netherlands Academies, a Corresponding Fellow of the French Academy, the Accademia dei Lincei (Rome) and Academy of Athens, and a Member of the American Law Institute. In 2002 he was appointed Conseiller Scientifique du Premier Président de la Cour de Cassation (France) on matters of European law.

He has received high decorations for his work on European law and integration from the Presidents of France (three times), Germany (three times), Greece, and Italy (three times). In 2002 he was promoted by the President of Italy to the highest rank of the Italian Order of Merit, namely Knight Grand Cross, while the President of Germany awarded him the insignia of Knight Commander of the Order of Merit, in May 2003. This past spring he was elected to the French Academy and was also awarded the rank of Commander in the Order of the Legion d' Honneur by the French Government. In March 2005, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II conferred a knighthood on him for "Services to International Legal Relations."

Related Links:
H.M. Queen Elizabeth II Confers Knighthood on Professor Sir Basil Markesinis:
Markesinis Faculty profile:
Institute for Transnational Law: