PATRICK Atiyah, one of the most important legal scholars of his generation and an Honorary Fellow at St John’s College, has died aged 87.

The professor of English law at Oxford from 1977 to 1988 championed the ‘law-in-context’ movement, which looked at law in its social, political and economic context.

His Introduction to the Law of Contracts has become a Bible to young law students.

But he is best known for his work advocating the abolition of the law of tort, and his 1970s book Accidents, Compensation and the Law, argued for a no-fault state compensation system rather than one which seeks to blame and claim damages from someone.

In the 1990s he developed the idea further and suggested people buy personal safety insurance.

Patrick Selim Atiyah was born on March 5, 1931, to parents Jean and Edward Atiyah, a Christian Lebanese writer who came to England to study at Oxford.

One of four children, he grew up in Sudan and then Egypt, when his father worked in the intelligence department of the Anglo-Egyptian administration.

He had two brothers, Joe and Sir Michael Atiyah - a mathematician - and a sister, Selma.

After moving to Britain in 1945, he went to Woking County Grammar School for Boys and then Magdalen College, Oxford, to study law.

He married Christine Best in 1951 and the couple had four sons - Julian, Andrew, Simon and Jeremy.

Five years after getting married he was called to the Bar and his academic career began as an assistant lecturer at the University of Khartoum in Sudan until 1959, then as a crown counsel in Ghana until 1963.

He returned to Britain as a legal assistant to the Board of Trade before getting a fellowship at New College, Oxford, four years later.

However his second stint in the city didn’t last long and he moved to Australia at the beginning of the 1970s at professor of law at the Australian National University in Canberra.

A four-year spell at the University of Warwick followed, before he was drawn back to Oxford as a professor of English law with a fellowship at St John’s in 1977.

After retiring 11 years later the college, which paid tribute to him last month, elected him to an Honorary Fellowship.

In his later life he moved to Hayling Island off the south coast.

He died on March 30 and is survived by his wife Christine, three sons, Julian, Andrew, and Simon and seven grandchildren.

His son, Jeremy, a travel writer at The Independent on Sunday, suffered a fatal heart attack while on assignment in Umbria in 2006.