Messages of Condolence on Neil MacCormick

It was a real privilege to have known Neil, both as a colleague and as a friend. He was a tremendous scholar and a wonderful person.

Paul Craig

Dear Professor MacCormick, Sadly, I never met you but we kept in touch via email.I remember , when I asked you some legal problems on my thesis, you answered me in generous manner. you were a man of God symbol beside your law's knowledge. rest in peace. Warm regard from Iran,Tehran university

Omid Ahmadi

With the death of Neil MacCormick, the World loses one of those great minds and fantastic persons that make Humankind so precious. Scotland loses its best thinker since the Enlightened Philosophers and Europe loses a powerful intellectual vision of peace, solidarity and self-determination. We all lose a cherished friend. My condolences to Flora and family. Warm regards from the Basque Country.

Joxerramon Bengoetxea

My Dear Professor MacCormick, Thank you once more for all the good you did - to me and the world. I will cherish for good the treasure I received by having had the enormous privilege of discussing with you, and sharing enthusiasm over your seminal work on constitutional pluralism. I will always also be grateful for that day when you came to Oxford and did with authority "what one had to do". The world is a poorer and less just place without you. I will miss you.


I spent substantial passages of time with Neil in Australia, where he visited 3 times, and in Edinburgh, where I spent a sabbatical, only because he was there. He was one of the most magnificent people I have met. So much so that he inspired me to compile a list of academic saints I have known. He was the first of only 7, and he remains the first. His remarkable intelligence was only part of it, and not the most distinctive part. There was his generosity - personal and institutional - his selflessness, his integrity, his wit, his joy of life and of people. He would lift the spirit and tone of any room he entered. I dare say that God will notice that too.

Martin Krygier

In 2003 I translated into Italian Neil MacCormick's "Questioning Sovereignty" and because of that I was in often touch with him. Soon later, it was a great privilege to know Neil personally and to have him and his lovely wife as our friendly guests at the Faculty of Law of the University of Bari where Neil, just at the end of his activity in the European Parliament, delivered the seminar "EU Constitution-Making and the Issue of Sovereignty". My personal and the whole Devolution Club's condolence to Flora and the people Neil loved.

Professor Alessandro Torre - The Devolution Club

my sincere wishes to the family and friends of Neil MacCormick. A great man. Europe as a whole owes much to him.

Herwig Hofmann

I was not lucky enough to meet and know Professor MacCormick by person. This would be a huge regret for the rest of my life. RIP

Paolo Sandro

It was a privilege to have known Professor MacCormick. His contributions to the conciliation meetings in the European Parliament that I helped to organise between 1999 and 2004 were always well-considered and thoughtful. And at a personal level he was a truly delightful and interesting person to have the chance to work with. I am truly saddened to learn that his life has been shortened so cruelly.

Michael Shackleton

All my regrets

Isabel Garrido

When I got to Edinburgh to write my PhD, I was lucky enough to be received by Neil. I was the student, the newcomer, he the famous professor. But he never took notice of that. Never patronizing, never causing you to feel that he had more interesting things to do than talking to you (though you knew or at least guessed that that was often the case), always making an effort to learn from you. And because of that, of course, you’d learn from him. You’d learn not only about legal theory, but also about being a scholar, being a citizen, about leading a life. To him I owe more than I can say.

Fernando Atria

I did not know him. I have just read some of his books and I wished to know him. Since a few months I am writing some pages inspired by some of his ideas. I hope to finish them. It will be a complete honour and a little way to keep him alive. Sorry for our loss. My condolences to his family and friends.

Juan Lancheros

The German Section of the IVR is saddened by the death of the President of the World Organization of the IVR. Many of our members knew Neil MacCormick and admired his intellectual sharpness and broad reach. His personal warmth and generosity will also be missed greatly. Our heartfelt condolences go to his family.

Winfried Brugger, President of IVR's German Section

Neil MacCormick´s professionalism and brilliance in legal science is legendary and will continue to inspire present and future generations of legal theorists.

Mats Flodin

Neil was not only my academic supervisor but a dear friend who will be sadly missed. But his books are there to remind us of a great scholar and a generous person. My condolences to Flora and family.

Jes Bjarup

A friend, a master. He will remain, with his generosity and outstanding work, in our memory. My condolences to Flora and family. With warm regards.

Sebastián Urbina

Prof MacCormick was my tutor in Jurisprudence in the early 90's. I was a transfer student and didn't know many people and managed to arrive late to a discussion in full swing. However my appearance and my opinions seemed to be of interest to him and I began to feel that this transfer wasn't all that bad after all. He, like Alex Salmond, made it quite clear in the early days when no-one really knew what the SNP meant, that it was not at all equivalent to the BNP, a relief to many of us.

Sumaya Rouf

A truly great teacher and character, witty, intelligent, warm-hearted. He will be sorely missed in Brussels, Strasbourg and Edinburgh.

fraser cameron

I took Prof MacCormick's Honours Jurisprudence course during the mid 80s. He had the happy knack of re-framing some of our not-very-well-informed questions as truly intelligent and stimulating discussions. I always left his class feeling smarter than I did when I entered! I remember attending a debate at the Student Union as a fresher, when he had been called in at short notice to speak for the motion: "This House believes that men are clay for women to make mugs of." That was the funniest speech I ever heard in a debate anywhere.

Barbara Donegan

We have been honoured to meet Professor MacCormick at H.L.A. Hart Conference at University of Cambridge two years ago. Just few minutes talking with him gave us feeling that legal theory has a soul. Professor MacCormick is a world class scholar. R.I.P.

Vanja-Ivan Savic and Luka Burazin, taching assistants, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law, Legal Theory Department

Receiving the message of Professor Neil MacCormick's passing has been very saddening to me. As a graduate student in Edinburgh, I had experienced him as a most fascinating scholar and a most humorous and generous human being and I have learned so much from him and his work. His passing is a hard loss - especially for those who have known him for far longer and more closely. He is a person I will always remember, and my thoughts are with his family and friends.

Marcus Hahn

As so many have written, Neil was not simply an inspiring and challenging intellect but also a warm and wonderful person - characteristics that he combined in his professional and private life so as to be a great colleague, a committed and conscientious politician, admired even by those who did not share his views, and a good friend. In all these ways, I took him as a role model - though regrettably one which I have failed in all respects to live up to. He was on the committee that appointed me to my first permanent job as a lecturer in the politics department at Edinburgh and was extremely supportive thereafter, involving me in the stimulating legal theory group of students and staff he had gathered around him. So I owe him a lot - not least my own interest in constitutional issues in both the UK and Europe. My condolences to his family and colleagues.

Richard Bellamy

Un vecchio amico, un uomo di prim'ordine, un grande studioso. (An old friend, a man of the first rank, a great scholar.)

Enrico Pattaro

Nick Dyson (Law IT Manager) told me a good Neil story yesterday, which he got from Alan Symington, late Law School servitor and another good man taken from us far too soon. Apparently Alan went out into the Old College quadrangle at the end of another working day and found Neil wandering about, looking a bit puzzled and worried. Alan, being well used to the academics under his control, asked the professor if he could help, and Neil advised that he couldn't find his bike and thought it had been stolen. Alan, with his customary Gorebridge mining observational powers, explained to the professor that he, Alan, had seen him, the professor, driving his car into Old College that morning, and it seemed still to be there where he had parked it. As Donald MacCormick remarked in his eulogy at Greyfriars last Friday, Neil always had a good relationship with cars!

Hector MacQueen

Neil MacCormick's contribution as one of the European Parliament's representatives on the Convention on the Future of Europe (2002-03) should not go unrecorded. He was actively engaged throughout the process, and brought valuable quizzical judgement to many of the debates. He was particularly keen to impress on the Convention the importance of recognising Europe's huge diversity, and of catering for that diversity in constitutional terms. Neil and I agreed that the Convention was one of the best experiences of our lives. His commitment to Europe, his vitality and intelligence is greatly missed.

Andrew Duff MEP

A true gentleman. Rest in Peace.

Helen Collins (formerly European Parliament Office in Scotland)

It is a great regret that we cannot see any more Professor Neil MacCormick as an enlightening key-note speaker or an ardent discussant in IVR Conferences. It is also a deep grief that as a former student to him I can not get in touch with him any more for his advice and encouragement. From the first encounter with Professor MacCormick at IVR Conference at Kobe in 1987 to the last homage visit to him at his Pentland Terrace home on December 2008, I have been extremely lucky and privileged to have him as a mentor and a friend. It is a constant source of inspiration and admiration to reminisce that his institutional theory of law and his last quartet masterpiece of jurisprudence is a kind of fine Scottish product to make the society and the world better. I offer my heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Flora MacCormick.

Byung-sun Oh, Professor of Jurisprudence, Seoul

I had the occasion to meet with Neil McCormick on the occasion of scientific debates, the happy moments for a scholar. I think his openness to ideas and reflections, coming from different sides, the attempt to develop comprehnsive theories and reflections, the attitude of simplicity in proposing his solutions, are a legacy for all the scientific world. I unite in the sorrow of his family and friends.

Pasquale Policastro, Szczecin and Salerno

I cannot say that I knew Neil MacCormick very well at all, suffice to say that during our encounters in the hurly burly of life in the European Parliament I found him to be a genuinely warm, friendly and polite gentleman. In such an eminent Professor these human qualities are not always evident but in Neil who downplayed his brilliance they were very much in abundance. Political differences only served to raise his desire to communicate. Thank you for your example.

Elisabeth Sweeney-Smith

Although not a direct student of him, I am one of those who benefited from Professor MacCormick teachings. His early work “Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory” is still a must for every student of law. I pay my respects and thank him for his contribution which – as it is obvious in my case – transcended national, academic and language barriers.

Antonio Bar. Professor of Constitutional and EU Law, University of Valencia, Spain.

The best always die first. He will be remembered as one of the greatest social science scholars of our time.

Professor Hjalte Rasmussen

I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Professor Sir Neil MacCormick, a prominent person, a prominent mentor, and a prominent scholar.

Erik Gyulazyan

I met Neil first when we overlapped as students in the 1960s in Oxford. He was impressive then and politically distinctive. We met again many years later when separately we had both found ourselves immersed in European matters. Neil has contributed so much to both politics and to the development of ideas. It is so sad that his contribution has been truncated. Indeed he is greatly missed.

Helen Wallace

Thank you Neil for your fine cooperation and friendship during our work together in the Echelon temporarary committee of the European Parliament, where we both served as vice-chair. My sincere condoleances to Mrs. MacCormick and his family.

Dr.Elly Plooij- van Gorsel, former MEP, The Netherlands.

I first met Neil when we were studying at the university of Glasgow,where he proved to be a formidable debater and a real asset to the S. cottish nationalists.Many years later we resumed our friendship when he was elected to the European Parliament. He was an excellent representative for Scotland and could really explain in simple terms the nuances of European policy making. Like his father Neil was was prepared to engage in dialogue and friend ship with members of other political parties in scotland and europe. The large attendance at the funeral service is a testament to the high regard for Neil among academics politicians and legal practitioners. He will be sadly missed.

I was a student in Professor MacCormick's Jurisprudence course in 1974-75 when I was taking my junior year abroad at U of E from Brown University in the United States. Professor MacCormick was then a young academic, and it would be several more years before he had published the books that justly established him as a significant legal philosopher and gained him widespread regard. His was my first courses in law (I am now in my 30th year practicing environmental law), and although the factors surrounding my decision to become a lawyer are now shrouded in the mists of time, it is certainly possible that his lively, erudite and thoroughly enjoyable lectures encouraged me to (or at least did not discourage me from) pursuing law as a career. I fondly remember Professor MacCormick as an enormously engaging, intelligent, compassionate (isn't it strange that this quality came through in lectures on Scots and Roman law?) and warm lecturer. And he had a marvelous twinkle. I am very saddened to learn of his passing.

Jane Stewart

Sadly I never met Sir Neil MacCormick but I knew of him and his work with much admiration. On behalf of my Cornish colleagues and myself may I express gratitude for his life and condolences to his family and friends on the passing of a great Scotsman? The very large attendance at his memorial service in the Kirk of the Greyfriars spoke volumes.

John Fleet: CERES

Professor Neil McCormick was a great scholar of the arts and true academic. Not three years ago, while studying for the LLB, I read parts of his 1994 work "Legal Reasoning and Legal Theory". It was, and very much remains, a masterclass in jurisprudence, both rigorous and intellectually stimulating. May his belief in good morals and scholarship at the highest level be an inspiration to us all.

Marcin Roth

All my sympathy and regrets

Desa Mlikotin Tomic

Although elected to the European Parliament on a political ticket the wisdom Neil imparted was at a truly European level. He was widely respected throughout the European Parliament and will be missed by his many friends and admirers.

Richard Balfe former MEP

A truly international Scot and contributor on many levels to life and work here. He will be sadly missed but, as the other messages confirm, his legacy will be long-lasting, inspirational and enlightening.

Professor Mike Danson

Professor McCormick´s work has been an inspiration to me and fellow students of law. The pain felt on the news of his untimely death is strong, but stronger still is the conviction of Professor McCormick´s lasting legacy to the generations to come.

Dr Haris Kountouros

Je vous prie de transmettre à la Famille de Sir Neil MacCORMICK mes plus sincères condoléances.

André SAINJON - Ancien Député Européen

I will always have good memories from our many meetings on the constitutional proces and want to present my condolocenses for his family and closest friends.

Jens-Peter BONDE

The generosity, kindness and humour he allways showed in meetings at EP Committee on Legal Affairs will never be forgoten.

Iñigo Valverde - Luxembourg

Although I cannot claim to have known Neil as well as others who have written on this page, I would like to say that he was someone who showed me great personal kindness when I was an undergraduate at Edinburgh in the late 1970's. Later on, when I got to know Neil better, I realized that his personal kindness to me, on this occasion, was indicative of someone of a truly distinguished and admirable character. I feel fortunate to have known him.

Paul Russell, Vancouver

I only met Neil (then MEP) and Flora once in Brussels. The couple really formed a team and greeted me like family. Two obituaries I read mention the word "inclusive", a word I would like to come across more often.

Marguerite Johnson, daughter of Donald Johnson (Tarbert, Argyll)

For all of us Neil was a good friend, a splendid person and an outstanding scholar. I would like to dedicate to his memory this short poem by Salvatore Quasimodo (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1959): “Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra trafitto da un raggio di sole: ed è subito sera” (Everyone stands alone at the heart of the world pierced by a ray of sunlight, and suddenly it is evening)

Paolo Comanducci, Genova

Although our paths did not cross very often I had the privilege of working with Neil for a short time when he took over the reins as Vice Principal International. He was such a warm and approachable man, always generous with his time. He always knew the right things to say and the right time to say them.

Sandra Morris

Neil was a important legal theorist, an engaging teacher, a committed yet sensible politician, a kind mentor to many (including me) and a great and good friend. And I have fondest memories of our late nights of song and music. Dh'iadh ceò nan stùc Mu eudann Chuilinn, Is sheinn 'bhean-shìth A torman mulaid, Gorm shùilean ciùin 's An Dùin a sileadh, O'n thriall thu uainn 'S nach till thu tuille!

Leslie Green, Oxford

It is with great personal regret that I came here tonight to express my condolences for the passing of this gentle teacher. He was a teacher of mine too. We will all miss his brilliant and well organized mind. And we will always remember his warm sunny laughter; I know I will.

Michael Roumeliotis

As an Italian law student interesting in and working with European issues, I have had the occasion to meet Sir Neil MacCormick through his books. It was my intention to come to Edimburgh for a research period abroad and meet him personally. Although I have never had the honour to contact him, I would like to express here my gratitude for what I feel he taught me, in terms of knowledge and enthusiasm. Sincerely,

Giuliano Vosa

I was so sad to read the news of Neil's death, though I knew how ill he had been. He was such a fabulous colleague, and helped me in so many ways when I was in Edinburgh. He once magicked a solution to a quite impossible student complaint, by being all the things he was: brilliant, inspired, humorous, kind, fair and tireless. I know how much he will be missed by those who knew and loved him, and I feel sad for them too.

Vicki Bruce

I am very saddened by the death of Neil MacCormick. During the twenty years I knew him, I came to regard him as a close friend. His openness, kindness and extraordinary sense of the equal worth of everyone, made a deep and lasting impression. He embodied the best from the peculiar mixture of learnedness, undogmatic liberalism and revolutionary humanity tamed by political wisdom, found in the complex history of the peoples of the United Kingdom; on his death my thoughts cannot but go to the great names of the Scottish Enlightenment. He was highly respected in Norwegian academic circles and will be spoken of with love in many years to come; and after we who were so fortunate as to meet him are gone, his written works will live on, bearing witness to the greatness and humanity of Neil MacCormick.

Svein Eng

I am pretty sure that Neil MacCormick will be remembered as one of the greatest legal philosophers of our time, if not the greatest. His academic merit attracted hundreds of students from all over the world into Scotland, including myself. His works on legal reasoning made legal philosophy something important for lawyers and developed a whole new field of legal research: that of the justification of legal decisions. But in addition to all this academic merit, which provides an example and an incentive for young scholars, Neil’s life was marked by his generosity and his good will. I will never forget how he was able to find time for his students and friends even in the worse days of his disease. When I was in Edinburgh in late 2006, on a research visit, he mentioned two or three times that he could not me in a particular day because he had medical appointments. I now know that at that time he was already facing a battle against cancer. But that did not stop him from spending many hours with me – and with whoever knocked on his door – discussing some philosophical issues that, albeit complicated for me, would normally be considered boringly trivial for a man of his theoretical background. But as Zenon Bankowski said in this obituary, Neil had time for every one, from the first year student to the most senior academic. Even though I grieve his death and share the pain for his passing, I considered myself privileged to have met such a beautiful soul.

Thomas Bustamante

As I travel around the world participating in Congresses and conferences, I often meet highly intelligent snd even distinguished persons from whom I learn something to improve my own philosophical thinking. Occasionally, I meet someone so hearty in spirit and wise in mind that I feel joy in our conversation and cooperation. Neil was one of these rare and wonderful persons. This is why today I grieve with and for all those who love him as I did and always will.

Carl Wellman

I admired him as academic,but I would like to have been the kind of human person he was.

francisco laporta. Madrid. Spain

I've had the privilege of admiring Professor McCormick twice, first when I was a graduate student at Oxford (before he assumed the post at Edinburgh) and, most recently, when I became a member of the Executive Committee of the IVR. We'll miss the immediacy of his intellectual passion, but his mark on the field of philosophy of law will, fortunately, remain to guide us.

Leslie Pickering Francis

Neil's flamboyant profundity and understanding allowed me to sail through a -then- relatively new interaction between legal philosophy and discourse analysis. I was the prodigal academic daughter welcomed and adopted by him. He gave me a chance to enjoy and question his insights, mostly during inspiring sessions on Thursday afternoons in the Moot room of the Old College. He never failed to impress me when he used to slowly nodd off during presentations, balancing on the two back legs of his chair, and then, when the presentation had finished, he literally propelled himself forward and posed the first and most intelligent question to the speaker. I still wonder whether he was really asleep or whether he fooled us... Neil chaired my PhD-examination board at the EUI in Florence: even in retrospect, I feel so proud! Would I have been where I am right now without Neil MacCormick's encouragement and support? This is what people like Neil do for you: they become part of someone's academic fabric and reach a state of foreverness, of eternity.

Monica den Boer

I knew Sir Neil for all to brief a period, and came to like and respect him a great deal. He was, in my opinion, a unique man the like of which one rarely meets. This is one man whom, although he is no longer with us, I will never forget, such was the impression he left on me personally.

Alf Thomas

If it were not for his kindness and graciousness, I might not have survived some difficulties as a student. He was such a nice person; the kind you come across only a handful of times in a lifetime, and never forget about.

Jonas Conrad

he was a lovely man and a fantastic lecturer and tutor who was able to engage and inspire with ease,thanks for lots of small kindness during hard times

Joe Brannigan

I think Neil's greatness was epitomized in his accurate, generous and fair treatment of scholars he was criticizing or appraising in print.

Russell K. Osgood

During thirteen years as Head of Planning Unit and then School I probably had the best times, certainly the most fun, at Planning and Resources Committee meetings when Neil was in charge. Among his better lines was to call "nae niggling" when financial scrapping became unseemly. Or, at Promotions Committee when we were at the last item after a long day and someone said that we were punch drunk, Neil's immediate response was to say, "never mind, we can soon go home and get ordinary drunk". It is hard to imagine Edinburgh without Neil around, such a generous and witty colleague who wore his amazing intellect so lightly.

Kath Melia

In an era of such appalling cynicism and selfishness your decency and altruism will be especially missed.

Alan Lawson

All the good things about Neil mentioned in the obituaries and tributes are true: especially the genius for friendship, the charismatic teaching and lecturing, the encyclopaedic knowledge lightly borne, and the evident good will to all which especially made him an inspiring and successful leader in the wider academic community. I long ago lost count of the number of strangers to me from all over the world and many different backgrounds who, once the news of Neil's illness became widely known, asked after him as soon as my Edinburgh link was realised. Many of us will also long remember the fortitude and humour with which he faced up to his final illness, and hope that we will be able to do half so well when our time comes. One story to illustrate the manner and style of Neil's teaching, which also shows the nature of the man. In the 1975-76 session he arrived in Room 270 Old College to deliver a lecture to the class of Jurisprudence. As he took to the podium he removed from his wrist with a characteristic flourish what was evidently a lady's watch. This produced catcalls from members of his audience. Neil smiled, explained that having broken his own watchstrap that morning he had borrowed his wife's watch so that he could keep to his allotted 50 minutes with the class, and then used the class reaction to analyse the difference between social rules (men's watches aren't the same as women's ones, lectures last for 50 minutes not the hour in the timetable) and legal rules. All that had been abstract and difficult for jurisprudence novitiates suddenly became pellucidly clear. Either Neil had thought it all out before, in which case the expansive gesture with which he removed the watch was perfectly timed to get the reaction he wanted; or, more likely, it was unplanned but he could react with instant humour to an unexpected situation, engage with his audience, and turn the whole thing intellectually to support what he had anyway wanted to say. Whichever, it was a brilliant moment of theatre that remains vivid in the memory nearly 35 years later.

Hector MacQueen