Born in Athens of Venetian descent, he trained as a lawyer in Athens, Paris, and Cambridge (England). Sir Basil, who has a part-time practice as a barrister in London, held senior teaching positions in Cambridge (Fellow of Trinity College), Oxford (where he held, first, the Chair of European Law and, later, the Chair of Comparative Law) before being elected to the Chair of Common and Civil Law of University College London, a post he holds jointly with the Jamail Regents Chair at The University of Texas at Austin. In a career which spans nearly forty years he has authored or co-authored twenty-nine books and over one hundred and twenty law articles published in major law journals all over the world. He has given named lectures in some twenty-five universities and has taught (in some instances several times) as Visiting Professor at the Universities of Athens, Cornell, Ghent, Ecole Normale Superieure (France), Leiden, Michigan, Munich, Paris I and II, Rome, and Siena. His work has been recognised by doctorates and honorary doctorates from (in alphabetical order) the Universities of Athens, Cambridge, Ghent, Munich, Paris (Sorbonne), and Oxford, and his election as Ordinary or Foreign Fellow of the Academies of Athens, Belgium, Britain, France (Institute de France, Academie des Sciences Morales et Politques), Netherlands, and Rome (Academia dei Lincei). He is also a Member of the American Law Institute. The Presidents of four European countries have honoured his work on comparative law and European integration by awarding him the insignia of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (Italy), Knight Commander of the Order of Merit (Germany), Commandeur de la Legion d’honeur (France), Officier des Palmes Academiques (France), and Commander of the Order of Honour (Greece). He was made Knight Bachelor by H. M. Queen Elizabeth II in the New Years Honours List of 2005 for “Services to International Legal Relations.”
Sir Basil is married to Eugenie (née Trypanis), by birth half-American and half-Greek, and has two children, Julietta (who read history and languages) and Spyro George (who practices law in London as a Solicitor at the international law firm of Richards Butler Plc.).