Professor Joseph J. Norton is James L Walsh Distinguished Faculty Fellow and Professor of Financial Institutions Law at the Southern Methodist University (United States). He co-founded the Asian Institute of International Financial Law in 1999. Prof. Norton talks about the beginnings of AIIFL in this Zoom session recorded on 14 May 2021 – approximately 14 minutes.

The University of Hong Kong was established in 1911, and the Department of Law was formed in 1969, with four teachers and forty students. On 1 July 1984, the Faculty of Law was created, comprising the Department of Law and the Department of Professional Legal Education. The Department of Law has responsibility for the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and legal education components of undergraduate mixed degree programmes including the BBA(Law) and BA(Government and Law). The Department of Professional Legal Education is responsible for the Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL), a one-year course of practice-oriented instruction which is a prerequisite to legal qualification in Hong Kong. Both departments contribute to postgraduate coursework programmes including a variety of LLM and Postgraduate Diploma programmes. The Faculty of Law also offers the research degrees of PhD, MPhil and SJD. At present, the Faculty has approximately 100 staff and at any given time over 1,800 students.

Reflecting Hong Kong’s position as perhaps the leading international commercial and financial centre in Asia, commercial, corporate and financial law has long been one of the main areas of strength of the Faculty of Law and has been selected as one of the Faculty’s six areas of strategic development. To support development of commercial, corporate and financial law expertise, in 1998 HKU awarded the Faculty a Distinguished Visiting Professorship, which was taken up from January 1999 to June 2000 by Professor Joseph J. Norton, then Sir John Lubbock Professor of Banking Law at the University of London and James L. Walsh Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Financial Institutions Law and Professor of Law at the Dedman School of Law, Southern Methodist University.

During his tenure at HKU, Professor Norton, along with Professor Say Goo and other colleagues working in the area of commercial, corporate and financial law, led the establishment of both AIIFL and the Master of Laws in Corporate and Financial Law “the LLM(CFL)” at the Faculty of Law in July 1999. AIIFL was established to assist the Faculty of Law in developing a partnership with other units at HKU and with the local business and financial communities for establishing a leading Asian academic centre in the area of international commercial, corporate and financial law.

Professor Norton and Professor Say Goo were named founding Executive Directors of AIIFL and Professor Goo was named founding Director of the LLM(CFL). Professor Charles Booth was appointed Director of AIIFL from December 2000 to December 2005. Professor Douglas Arner was appointed Director of the LLM(CFL) in July 2002 and served as AIIFL Director from January 2006 to June 2011. Professor Say Goo was Director from July 2011 to June 2015. Associate Professor Gary Meggitt was Director from July 2015 to June 2019. Our current Director is Professor Douglas Arner