Professor Michael Wilkinson (1945-2019), our beloved colleague and friend, passed away peacefully on the evening of 20 February 2019 in the company of his most beloved and his daughter. Professor Wilkinson joined the School of Law (as the Faculty of Law then was) of The University of Hong Kong in 1983, and taught several generations of law students the PCLL subjects of Conveyancing, Civil Procedure, Professional Ethics, and Advocacy. He had published extensively in these fields.
Professor Wilkinson served as Associate Dean of our Faculty of Law in 1990-91, Head of the Department of Professional Legal Education in 1991-93 and 1996-2005, and as Chairman of the Board of the Faculty of Law in 2006-2015. He had also served as the University’s Public Orator, a member of the Hong Kong Law Reform Commission, and a member of many committees of the Law Society of Hong Kong. In 2018, Professor Wilkinson became the second Honorary Member for Life admitted by the Law Society of Hong Kong in its history, an honour bestowed upon him in recognition of his tremendous contribution to legal education and to the legal field in Hong Kong.
Professor Wilkinson was a graduate of Cambridge University and a barrister of the Inner Temple. He started his academic career at Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, where Andrew Li, subsequently the first Chief Justice of the HKSAR, was a student in his tutorials. He has taught for 13 years in Africa – first in Uganda and then in Malawi - before joining The University of Hong Kong in 1983, where he became the longest-serving teacher in the Faculty of Law (1983-2019).
In his interview with Hong Kong Lawyer last year, Professor Wilkinson said: “I have probably taught 60 to 70 percent of all lawyers in Hong Kong. And the best part of my work is interacting with my students.” As regards his service on many Law Society committees, he said: “The friendship, the warmth, the kindness and the tolerance of my ignorance that I have received from my fellow committee members has been so great.”
Professor Wilkinson, who courageously fought against cancer in the last few years, delivered his last lecture on 28 January 2019. Throughout the course of his illness, he carried on teaching, marking and scholarly writing just the same. He told us that it was the teaching and the students that kept him strong.
We are heartbroken by Michael’s passing. Michael will always be fondly remembered as a great teacher, a wonderful friend and a great mentor. His wisdom, sense of humour and charisma will be very much missed.
Words may fail us, but Michael’s friendship, collegiality, passion for teaching, love for legal scholarship, care and concern for his colleagues, students and friends, and selfless devotion to the common good of our law school and our legal community, will always be in our hearts.