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Book reviews

12 December 16

Reviews of Enforcement of Heritable Securities (Higgins), The Butcher's Trail (Borger)

by Stewart Brymer, David Josse (review editor: David J Dickson)

Enforcement of Heritable Securities

Mark Higgins

PUBLISHER: W GREEN
ISBN: 978-0414018976
PRICE: £85

This very useful book was first published in 2010 and a second edition is now appropriate – unlike some books where new editions appear to be produced too quickly (in this reviewer's opinion).

It is, by its very essence, a practical book which is designed to be accessed when required.

The law is stated as at 7 May 2016, and the book contains an excellent review of legislation promulgated in both Holyrood and Westminster and how case law has interpreted same – a not inconsiderable task and the author is to be congratulated in producing such an eminently readable book.

At the outset, I must admit to not having read the first edition – I know not why. I am glad that that oversight on my part has been corrected. I could comment on the 15 chapters and appendices, but that is the easy option. Instead, I recommend that the book be read and key messages applied in everyday practice. If I were to be in any way critical, it would be to say that the author's use of what are very extensive footnotes is somewhat offputting (p 110 is the only significant page without any footnotes!). He is not alone in this, however, and overall, it does not detract from the quality of the work.

The state of the law on the enforcement of heritable securities has been the subject of adverse comment from the judiciary and academia in recent years. That, of itself, is not a bad thing if the law which develops therefrom is an improvement – Royal Bank of Scotland plc v Wilson [2010] UKSC 50 being a prime example. The treatment by the author of the subject of both residential and commercial securities is very worthwhile, as is the comparison of the law in Scotland with that in England & Wales. A particular plus of the book is the practical advice on court procedure and ways for debtors to avoid repossession.

By way of final comment, chapter 15 of the book deals with future developments in the enforcement of heritable securities – the pity is that it is only two pages long. Given the complex nature of the subject, I had hoped for more coverage of possible future developments; maybe that is for the third edition. It is to be hoped that those with an interest in the subject will participate in the Scottish Law Commission's proposed discussion of possible reforms.

Professor Stewart Brymer OBE, WS, Brymer Legal Ltd

The Butcher’s Trail

Julian Borger

PUBLISHER: OTHER PRESS
ISBN: 978-1590516058
PRICE: £18.99; E-BOOK £11.58

A significant number of books and articles have sought to set out and explain the work and achievements of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. The majority of these tend to examine both the institution and the events that gave rise to its creation from a rather academic and dry point of view. This book written by Julian Borger, the diplomatic editor of The Guardian, is rather different in that it is written in the engaging and entertaining style of a highly experienced journalist.

The book is primarily a fairly detailed account of the methodology the tribunal used to search for and then catch the individuals it had indicted. Having no police force of its own, it was dependent generally on soldiers of various nations – in particular USA, France, Germany and the UK, and for the most part not working in concert with each other – to act on its behalf to do the finding and arresting. The book is at its most incisive when it deals with how this manifested itself both politically and militarily in each of the countries in question.

Many of the attempts are entertaining, if somewhat far fetched. For example the use of a gorilla suit as a distraction in order to make an otherwise speeding driver slow down out of curiosity, or the capture of the wrong set of identical twins.

The journalist in Borger is always striving to keep the reader interested and, notwithstanding the subject matter, amused. A good example of this is a bizarre tale, albeit from an unattributable double hearsay source, that after the Dayton Agreement had ended the Bosnian war, Boris Yeltsin arranged for Radovan Karadzic to be sent to Belarus “as a potential seat of exile. Karadzic took one look at the country’s grim capital, Minsk, and asked to be flown home”.

The book touches on what subsequently happened to those whose capture is described. A particular omission in this regard was the fate of Radislav Krtsic, a Bosnian Serb general who in 2001 was the first ICTY indictee to be convicted of genocide for his significant role in the Srebrenica massacre. In due course he was sent to the UK to serve his sentence, but in 2010, whilst in HMP Wakefield, had his throat cut by three fellow inmates, in an attempt to kill him, in what was described as a “punishment or revenge” attack. As result Krstic was returned to the detention centre in The Hague.

Though this book is primarily about the search for Balkan war criminals, it would act as a light introduction to the uninitiated about the collapse of Yugoslavia and the resultant wars, as well as the role of the ICTY. The biggest problem, however, is that at times, even to someone familiar with the background, the book reads as a long and somewhat detailed list as to how and where individuals were captured. Put another way, at 332 pages excluding footnote references, the book is too long.

David Josse QC, 5 St Andrews Hill Chambers, London 

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