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Book reviews

19 May 14

Reviews of Planning; Scots Law Tales

by Tom Johnston, David J Dickson (review editor)

Scottish Planning Law

3rd edition

Ray McMaster, Alan Prior and John Watchman

PUBLISHER: BLOOMSBURY PROFESSIONAL

ISBN: 9781845927790

PRICE: £68

Much has moved on since the last edition of this book appeared in 1999. The planning landscape has been changed by the impact of devolution and by developments in human rights legislation. Many other major changes have taken place.

All of them are faithfully and fully recorded in this substantial, but surprisingly readable, book. Every lawyer who advises business clients encounters planning in a variety of guises. It is a matter of shame that many in the profession tend to duck such issues because of unfamiliarity. Having said that, when these three heavyweights remind us of the multitude of sources of the law – primary and secondary legislation, directions, case law, English case law, Government policy and regional variations – perhaps our insurers are happier that we don't dabble. Whatever your approach, you will almost certainly find an answer here.

The chapters are laid out clearly and logically: the index itself ending to 28 pages. For a subject which can cause emotions to run high, the authors stay objective, avoiding the care worn cynicism which many of us bring to discussions about the planning process and those who administer it.

Being of the cynical persuasion myself, I am afraid that I am unable to swallow 100% of the authors' assertion that "When an individual's rights are curbed it is not at the whim of the decision makers." Hmm.

If I have one small quibble, it is with a misleading entry on the contents page. Skimming this, you may well have believed that appendix 1 contained a whole print of the Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 – in fact it reproduces only section 26. But when it is now so easy to access legislation, this is a minor point.

One cannot help be impressed by the expertise of the authors, and also by the seamless way the book is brought together. I defy anyone to be able to tell who wrote which sections. The universal clarity and uniformity of style are admirable. All in all, an excellent and valuable book. We may not all become planning experts, but we can all hone our skills and knowledge in this important area.

Tom Johnston, Young & Partners

Pronounced for Doom

Early Scots Law Tales

(eds) John Grant and Elaine Sutherland

PUBLISHER: AVIZANDUM

ISBN: 9781904968658

PRICE: £15

This is the second miscellany of Scots Law Tales and is even better than the first selection. This sees 15 contributions from amongst our colleagues, from Robert Shiels writing on the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank to Sheila MacLean writing on the Madeleine Smith trial to John Grant telling us of the infamous Deacon Brodie.

The range is wide and diverse. The detail hits the spot, being neither dry academic treatise nor light overview. The Madeleine Smith story is an example, with our learning more of the background to Madeleine and her family, what happened to the family after the trial and a consideration of the facts in the case and the role of the not proven verdict – apposite to current debates. There are extracts of Lord Braxfield's charge to the jury in the Brodie trial which clearly would not withstand an appeal by current standards: "Upon the whole, gentlemen (yes!), taking all the circumstances of this case together, I can have no doubt in my own mind that Mr Brodie was present at the breaking into the Excise Office." The story of the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank shows how little is learnt from history by some sectors of business – the bank boomed, but eight years later "was an empty shell" with advances at 132.7% of deposits. Clare Connelly brings us the story and indictment of Thomas Muir, one of the five "Scottish Martyrs", illuminating a shameful period in the history of Faculty. Tailors of Aberdeen v Coutts, Udny v Udny, Hinton v Donaldson and more. A great collection with worthy insight.

David J Dickson, solicitor advocate

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