Professor Graham Virgo

Master at Downing College Cambridge

Master, Downing College
Professor of English Private Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge

Graham was installed as the 19th Master of Downing College on 2 October 2023.

Professor Virgo read Law at Downing College in the mid-1980s, before heading to Christ Church, Oxford to read for the Bachelor of Civil Law degree. Intending to become a barrister, he attended Bar School in London, but was encouraged to return to Downing in 1989 as a Law fellow. Over the years Professor Virgo has held numerous roles within College, including Tutor, Director of Studies and he was the Senior Tutor for a decade.

He was appointed to a University Lectureship in the Law Faculty in 1992, and he currently holds a personal chair in English Private Law. In 2014 he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education in the University, and in 2018 became Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor. In this role, Professor Virgo has led major initiatives, including the creation of the Foundation Year programme, the launch of the Stormzy Scholarship for UK Black students and changes to provision for mental health and wellbeing.

His major areas of research are in the fields of the Law of Restitution, the Law of Contract, Equity and trusts and Criminal Law. His work on the Law of Restitution covers all aspects of the subject, but especially the relationship between the law of property, the law of trusts and unjust enrichment.

He has published papers on causation in restitution for wrongs and unjust enrichment and also an analysis of the presence of a basis to deny a claim in unjust enrichment. He has written a student textbook on the Principles of Equity and Trusts and has contributed chapters on rescission to a practitioners' book on termination of contracts. He is currently working on new editions of his textbook on the law of restitution and a book of text, cases and materials on trusts and trustees. His research on the Criminal Law focuses on substantive developments in the criminal law, with particular reference to the law of homicide and joint enterprise.

Before taking up his post as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Virgo was previously Senior Tutor and Director of Studies in Law at Downing College, and Deputy Chair of the Faculty of Law. He is a barrister and Academic Bencher of Lincoln's Inn.