Professor Peter Brian Herrenden Birks QC, DCL, FBA (3 October 1941 – 6 July 2004) was the Regius Professor of Civil Law at the University of Oxford from 1989 until his death. He also became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1989, and an honorary Queen's counsel in 1995. He was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He is widely credited as having sparked academic enthusiasm for the English law of Restitution, and is often considered to have been one of the greatest English legal scholars of the 20th century.
In his obituary he was described as "a key figure in the extraordinary development of the law of restitution in the last 45 years".
Birks was also the first general editor of English Private Law, a book which sought to summarise and rationalise the entire scope of English private law, in accordance with Birks' own passionate belief for order and charactersiation within a discipline (law) which he regarded as too eclectic and inconsistent. He also wrote An Introduction To The Law Of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment, and wrote some 142 contributions to legal reviews.
In Woolwich Building Society v Inland Revenue Commissioners the House of Lords substantially adopted the reasoning set out in an academic essay by Birks, described in the judgment of Lord Goff as "powerful".
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Peter Birks arrived at his Kent grammar school (Chislehurst and Sidcup) in 1957 after a year at Repton and after spending his childhood in India.
Birks died of cancer, aged 62, on 6 July 2004.
- An Introduction to the Law of Restitution (1988)
- Unjust Enrichment (Clarendon 2004)
- English Private Law (OUP 2000)
- 'Before We Begin: Five Keys to Land Law', in S Bright & J Dewar, Land Law: Themes and Perspectives (OUP 1998) 457-86
- 'Compulsory Subjects: Will the Seven Foundations ever Crumble?'  1 Web JCLI
- 'The Implied Contract Theory of Quasi-Contract: Civilian Opinion Current in the Century before Blackstone' (1986) 6(1) OJLS 46–85
- Jack Beatson "Guardian Obituary" Check
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- Contract Law, Neil Andrews, Cambridge University Press, 2011, pg 676
- "Peter Brian Herrenden Birks (1941 - 2004)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
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- Obituary: Peter Birks | Education | The Guardian
- Jack Beatson, 'Peter Birks' (Obituary), The Guardian (16 July 2004), accessed 18 August 2009
- Obituary from the Oxford Comparative Law faculty
- Andrew Burrows, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, ed. (2006). Mapping the Law: Essays in Memory of Peter Birks (PDF). Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-920655-1.[dead link]
- Peter Birks Memorial Fund