One of the leading academic lawyers of his generation has died.
Mark Thompson was born in Sale, Greater Manchester in September 1957. He studied law at the University of Leicester (1975-78), took up a lectureship at Keele University in 1979, and moved on to the University of Essex in 1982. He returned to Leicester in 1985 but was then appointed to a professorship at Newcastle University in 1991, where he also served as head of the department of law (1993-95).
In 1996, however, Professor Thompson came back to Leicester again as professor of law. He was to remain there until he retired and became emeritus in 2016, following spells as head of what was then the department of law (1999-2002), pro vice-chancellor for resources (2004-15) and senior pro vice-chancellor (2007-15).
An expert in land law, Professor Thompson produced both specialist monographs and more general overviews: Megarry’s Manual of the Law of Real Property (1993), Land Law: Fundamental Legal Principles (1995) and Barnsley’s Conveyancing Law and Practice (1996). His definitive account of Modern Land Law was originally published in 2001. He was able to complete work on the sixth edition, co-authored by Martin George, earlier this year.
David Yates, warden of Robinson College, Cambridge, described Professor Thompson as “a real scholar and publishing powerhouse” whom he had recruited to Essex in 1982 because “he had in abundance that ‘pioneering spirit’ so necessary for the start of a new venture. It was soon evident that I had not been guilty of any misjudgement. Mark embarked, from his earliest time at Essex, on a ferocious schedule of research, writing articles on property law, at one and the same time both illuminating and controversial, that managed to be both scholarly and written with a clarity that was not always matched by the writings of those scholars with whose work he took issue. This led to Mark successfully crossing swords in print with scholars at the time many years his senior.”
As a teacher, Professor Yates went on, Professor Thompson “developed a reputation for clarity of exposition and dedication to his students that was the envy of many and the delight of the undergraduates. His passion for expeditions to the local curry houses (often involving a minor diversion to the pub en route) with both colleagues and students in tow were matters of Essex legend, and it seems from what others have written about Mark this was a habit from which he never deviated throughout his life.”
Professor Thompson died of pancreatic cancer on 13 June and is survived by his wife Kathy and two stepsons.