Former ICWA fellow Anthony Richard Dicks (China, 1962-1968) died on November 8, 2018 after a long illness at the age of 82. He was emeritus professor of Chinese law at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
Tony studied Chinese law in China, Hong Kong, Macao and Japan during his fellowship.
“Westerners who for one reason or another have occasion to look closely at Chinese law, whether traditional or modern, are, as a rule, first struck by the apparent gaps in the legal system which confronts them,” he wrote in one letter to then-Executive Director Dick Nolte. “It would be a great mistake, though, to associate with these characteristics a conceptual imprecision in the thinking of Chinese lawyers, or in the thinking of the Chinese about law. On the contrary, Chinese jurisprudence has always been characterized on occasion by exquisite subtlety and precision in definition and interpretation, which, when combined with the rich vein of latent ambiguity in the Chinese language, can produce remarkable results, when required.”
Tony also described his love of culture. In 1966, he wrote in a typical line: “In the euphoria which followed a most magnificent and unproletarian dinner of local fresh-water shrimps and lake fish, I was taken by my guide, Mr. Huang, to see “Hung-hua-tien,” (The Song of the Red Flower), in some ways the most interesting of all the operas I was to see.”
Later, he opened a two-nation law practice in Britain and China. He traveled back and forth several times a year with his wife Victoria working on cases, carrying on even under the Gang of Four, an especially notorious period during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).
Former Executive Director Peter Martin and his wife Lu kept up with Tony during annual visits to London. “We lunched or dined with Tony and Victoria just about every year,” Peter said. “He was respected by the Chinese for his law skills, and he seemed to be involved in many ongoing cases.”
Tony was enthusiastically supportive of the Institute, Peter added, and a fount of knowledge about Chinese legal issues and their effect on British and international law. “He was lively, ALWAYS au courant, and loved his transnational teaching and practicing career.”
A celebration of Tony’s life will be held in London in March.