Sir Basil Markesinis died on 23 April 2023. There was an obituary in The Times today and in the Daily Telegraph two weeks ago. Telegraph:
The multilingual, cosmopolitan son of a former prime minister of Greece, Markesinis held, 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.
Moving to London as Professor of Common and Civil Law at University College (UCL), he established the Institute of Global Law (“exceeded only by galactic”, observed one wag), holding the position simultaneously with a part-time chair at the University of Texas at Austin, where a legal colleague was quoted as describing him as “one active b—-r and as wise as a tree full of owls”.
It was quite an exciting read. If you have access to the Times or the Telegraph, you can see a photo of him wearing red trousers. I only knew his comparative-law books on The German Law of Contract and The German Law of Torts, both several times revised and updated. I used them a lot but I regret I have never found time to read them at length. But I have long been looking forward to doing so.
Just last week the ITI German Reading Group was reading the novel “Corpus Delicti” by Juli Zeh, who under her real name is an honorary judge (proposed by the SPD) in the constitutional court of Brandenburg. I didn’t think the legal vocabulary in this science fiction novel would be a big problem for translators, but I noticed the term überholende Kausalität and wondered how I would translate it, if it were essential to the plot or to a legal text. And so I looked at Markesinis on the German law of torts. He refers to overtaking causes. An example is a medical practitioner who blinds a patient who would have subsequently become blind in any case. He queries whether overtaking is the less appropriate adjective than overtaken, which is something I was trying to get my own head around.
At all events, those two books are a really full and useful read, with plenty of references to German sources.