He was born in Tysnes. He took the Dr.juris degree in 1967 for the thesis Virksomhetsbegrepet i norsk skatterett, and was a professor at the University of Oslo from 1968 to 1990. He specialized in commercial law, and was among the editors of the journal Tidsskrift for rettsvitenskap between 1974 and 2001. After leaving the professorship he worked as a lawyer for some years, and then served as a Supreme Court Justice from 1994 to 2002. He is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. On May 31, 1996 Aarbakke received an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, Sweden
- Henriksen, Petter, ed. (2007). "Magnus Aarbakke". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget.
- "Gruppe 6: Rettsvitenskap" (in Norwegian). Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2009.
- Honorary doctorates Retrieved 13 December 2019.
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