Edward Hector Burn 1922 - 2019

Edward Hector Burn of the Oxford Law Faculty has died at the age of 97. He served in the Second World War in his early twenties, landing at D-Day and participating in the Burma campaigns, and won citations for bravery. He had begun reading classics before the war, but returned to study common law at Wadham College. Going on to the BCL, he became a skilled Roman lawyer, seeking out the great German exile scholars then working at Oxford such as Fritz Schulz and Fritz Pringsheim, who taught Edward together with other bright students around the kitchen table at his home in Chalfont Road. Edward became a Student of Christ Church and soon emerged as one of the most formidable and beloved law tutors of post-war Oxford. He is remembered as a fine teacher with the gift of encouraging, challenging and befriending his students, leading many to their best achievements.

Edward reformed admissions at Christ Church, chaired the Law Faculty with tact and firmness, and together with Peter Carter engineered a leap in the standards of scholarship demanded of law students in Mods and Finals, re-establishing Oxford as an elite law school rivalling any in the common law world. He was the most gifted professor of the English law of property of the past half century. His writings, notably his great textbook Cheshire and Burn’s Modern Law of Real Property, made the difficult property doctrines of law and equity understandable, useful, and even beautiful. His writings remain deeply influential in the work of the courts and the legal profession to this day, but his deeper influence lies in the mark he left on all who learnt with him and taught with him.

Joshua Getzler