Institute of Global Law
The Chairman of the Institute, Professor Sir Basil Markesinis, QC, FBA, writes:
its six years of existence the Institute’s website has only announced
‘good’ news: the arrival of new colleagues; the honours and rewards
given to others; the launching of new research projects in pursuit of the unattainable
object of scholarly excellence. Exceptionally, we publish today a sad piece
of news; but the premature death of Trevor Brown has deprived us and the legal
world at large of an exceptional man.
Trevor had many features which made him not only unique but also admired by
many in the legal profession. He was a meticulous, down-to-earth, hard working
practitioner, with a talent for finding the solution that worked. As if this
were not enough, he brought to his work not only his professional talents but
also a sense of loyalty towards all who surrounded him and a sense of integrity
and honesty that were truly impressive even in a profession which prides itself
on having the kind of virtues one expects of servants of the law. He was also
a sensitive soul, devoted to his family; endless stories, recounted to us in
an understated but loving manner, testify to that.
But Trevor also had an academic mind and tried, in his work as well as in his
writings, to combine the best of the two sides of our profession and care for
both. This predilection made Trevor not only a respected but also a thoughtful
practitioner; it also led him to support the academic world in its hour of need
in numerous ways and in the hope that this would lead to new contacts, new thinking,
new ideas. Not all practitioners think like that.
As head of the Paris office of Clifford Chance he thus played a key role in
setting up a scheme which the then Senior Partner of this global firm, Keith
Clark, and I came up with during my Oxford days. The idea was simple: to strengthen
the links between the Universities of Oxford and Paris I and to help create
a generation of exceptionally talented and doubly trained young lawyers. If
the idea was simple, its execution was anything but. The “Association
Sorbonne-Oxford” provided the answer and it was Trevor’s brain child.
The structure defeated the kind of obstacles and hesitations which so often
induce paralysis in old institutions who find it difficult to adapt to a new
world. The Association was thus largely the product of Trevor’s labours.
Without him it would not have been set up, nor able to finance, for over five
years now, numerous professorial exchanges and conferences, as well as the purchase
of English law books to assist the Institute of Comparative Law of Paris I.
Trevor worked hard to get all this going and, as stated, did so while also
building up the Paris office of Clifford Chance, not to mention the fact that
he found time to play his favourite instrument, the cello, with friends. (Fittingly,
senior partner of Herbert Smith Paris sang a solo at his funeral in Paris on
January 5th, stressing, perhaps, the most beautiful of Trevor’s talents).
The partners of the Paris office of Clifford Chance, who now run the firm (as
well as the Association), will be the first to acknowledge this praise, as will
be Yves Wehrli, the current Paris Head, who has brought his own formidable talents
to the firm which Trevor helped build up and ran from 1990 to 1999.
Trevor’s help to Oxford was thus unique. In fact, it was more than that:
it was remarkable given that he was a loyal Cambridge man, and showed his generosity
towards his alma mater not only personally but also by convincing many in his
firm to follow suit. This writer has spent more time than most legal academics
in the unrewarding task of fund-raising, so he can speak with some knowledge
when he says that he has met few who can truly match Trevor’s loyalty
to the academic endeavour, wherever it originated, provided it had excellence
as its true aim (something not adequately appreciated in an era in which political
correctness has almost wiped out ‘merit’ from the list of essential
qualities that academics must possess). It says much of the French Government
and the French honours system that they noticed the multi-national nature of
his interest in education and honoured him with the insignia of the Chevalier
de l’Ordre national de Mérite, a prestigious order founded by General
de Gaulle to reward ‘distinguished’ services. Style is not something
the French lack; and this gesture was synonymous with it.
Our Institute’s website was also the beneficiary of his labours for he
selected, translated, and annotated over forty leading French decisions dealing
with commercial law matters which were so close to his professional career.
With characteristic generosity, he also insisted that he should do this for
free even though the generous support of the M.D. Anderson Foundation of Houston
has enabled us to bring this project to great prominence in a very short period
of time under the inspired leadership of M. Guy Canivet, First President of
the Cour de cassation. Indeed, Trevor worked on this project until the onset
of the illness that brought his life to a premature end forced him to give up.
Praising a colleague who has passed away and who also happened to be a close
personal friend can easily slide into the realm of hyperbole or acquire the
unattractive overtones of sentimentality. Yet one is avoiding both when asserting
that Trevor truly bridged the Channel and also the divide of the contemplative
and practising aspects of the legal profession. Through his work and his encouragement
of others, he showed us all how much we benefit by working with each other and
how one can achieve worthy objects without losing one’s humanity or humility.
No wonder so many already miss him dearly. We at the Institute of Global Law
most certainly do, and wish to convey to Trevor’s family our heartfelt
condolences and sincere sense of gratitude for what he did for us and others
during his fruitful life.