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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Professor Joseph J Norton (15 September 1945 – 9 June 2024) - In Memoriam

It was with the deepest sadness that we have learned that our close friend and colleague, Prof Joseph Jude Norton passed away on Sunday, 9 June 2024. Joe Norton was formerly the Sir John Lubbock Professor in Banking Law at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), Queen Mary University of London.

Professor Joseph J Norton

Life and remembrance

Joseph J. Norton was born in in Providence, Rhode Island, USA on 15 September 1945, at the very beginning of the Post-World War II era. Joe enjoyed a very happy upbringing in Rhode Island with his beloved parents, John and Cecelia Norton, and older brother, Jim. Joe met his wonderful wife, Colleen, in Dallas, Texas while he was studying in Austin. His brother had apparently lived opposite Colleen’s childhood home. Joe and Colleen were married in Dallas on 3 July 1973 and moved to White Rock Lake in 1977 where they would spend the rest of their 50 years of marriage together. Joe and Colleen were blessed with two children, Danielle Norton-Yaryan and Maree Sutton, with her husband David, and with three grandchildren William, Alexa and Ashleigh.

Joe had a most distinguished academic background. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts (AB) in Political Science from Providence College, an LLB (Honours) from the University of Edinburgh, an LLM from the University of Texas at Austin and an LLM and SJD from the University of Michigan. He obtained a Diplome at the Hague Academy of International Law and a DPhil from Oxford University. He was awarded an LLD from the University of London and an LLD (Honoris Causa) from the University of Stockholm. He returned to Edinburgh subsequently to receive the award of an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) from the University of Edinburgh in June 2017 which he enjoyed very much indeed.

Professor Joseph J Norton with CCLS staff and students in the ground floor lecture theatre.Joe was appointed an associate and then partner and director at Locke Purnell, Attorneys, Dallas where he began in 1972. He acted as an Adjunct Professor in Law from 1973 and became a tenured Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 1982. Joe was appointed the James L. Walsh Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Professor in Financial Law and an Emeritus Professor in 2024 at SMU.

Joe specialised in domestic and international banking and financial law, domestic and international business law and in international economic and development law. He became an internationally recognised expert in all of these fields. In Dallas, he regularly taught courses on international banking and finance, international business transaction, business enterprise, international economic development law and global financial markets as well as other commercial law courses, such as negotiable instruments. Joe was appointed the Nomura Distinguished Professor of Financial Systems at the Harvard Law School in Spring 2005 and taught international financial law and regulation.

Joe subsequently moved to Oxford and Woodstock, England with his family for a period. He was appointed the Cameron Distinguished Visiting Professorial Fellow in International Banking Law between 1988-1993 and then the Sir John Lubbock Professor in Banking Law at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), Queen Mary University of London between from 1993-2005. He set up the London, and later, Global Forum for International Economic Law and Development. He subsequently became a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the CCLS in London and a Professorial Fellow in Financial Law and Institutions at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS), London.

Joe travelled extensively in Asia and elsewhere across the world. In 1999-2001, he became the Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished University Professor of Law at the University of Hong Kong and was instrumental in establishing the Asian Institute of International Financial Law.

Professor Joseph J Norton speaking at an event.In 2005, he was appointed a University Visiting Professor at Peking University and at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. He acted as a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Mandela Institute, Wits University, Johannesburg and held a University Chaired Visiting Professorship at the Banking Centre at the Faculty of Law, Rand Afrikaans University. He became a Visiting Professor at the University of Muenster and at Soochow Law School, Taiwan where he taught international business law. He also taught significant international business and finance law related courses at Duke Law School and San Diego Law School. 
Joe carried out an enormous amount of work in the areas of national and international banking, and financial law reform. In so doing, he worked with many of the largest international law firms, barristers’ chambers, financial and international financial institutions and other international organisations and non-governmental organisations from across the world on a regular basis.

Joe Norton published over 50 books which is astonishing and with over 150 articles on a wide range of banking, financial, financial crime, international economic, develop finance and emerging markets and wider business and commercial law subjects.

Joe Norton most tragically passed away on Sunday, 9 June 2024 in Dallas, Texas, USA. Joe’s career and life has been characterised by service and contribution and by duty and support. Joe was known for his hard work ethic and commitment but also consequential very high levels of success and delivery. Joe was a perfectionist. Joe was a visionary and always thought longer term and specifically in terms of individual and institutional growth and advance. He cared deeply about people and about systems as well as societies and communities. He believed passionately about the importance of law and the rule of law but also in the need for continuous, meaningful, and targeted law reform to assist the less able.

Professor Joseph J Norton with CCLS staff at the Charterhouse Square campus.Joe was known for his limitless kindness, patience, and generosity. He was renowned for his good humour and good company and was one of the most convivial and engaging individuals that many people had ever met. Joe’s generosity was limitless and timeless. Joe Norton lived life to the full and enjoyed a very full life.

Joe lived with dignity and respect both for himself and for those around him. Joe was a great man and will be greatly missed by everyone that knew him. Joe will still live on in the memories of everyone who was fortunate enough to have spent some time, however short, with this remarkable and irreplaceable gentleman.    

Joe is lovingly remembered by his family on their website of condolence.

CCLS is creating its own record of condolences and remembrances for those who wish to share their memories and tributes of our most remarkable and irreplaceable friend and colleague.

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