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Book reviews

19 September 16

Reviews of Scottish Civic Government Licensing Law (Hajducki and Stuart), Planning (Collar)

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

Scottish Civic Government Licensing Law

4th edition

Andrew Hajducki QC and Steven Stuart QC

PUBLISHER: W GREEN
ISBN: 978-0414031654
PRICE: £80

They’ve done it again! This is often an opening declaration celebrating a repeat triumph. Instead we have another edition of this book which offers the law as will be and the law as is. In their last edition the authors based the work on a bill which did become law, but with some sections renumbered. Infuriating. At least in this case the alternatives are based on law which has found its way onto the statute book, but is not yet in force. Given the Scottish Government’s recent track record, the transition from one to the other is not the given it used to be. Hedging their bets, the authors produce two versions of the statute.

Reading the introduction is a fascinating reminder of how volatile this area of the law is. Only a century ago, regulated occupations included messengers, porters, chimney sweeps, golf caddies and shoe blacks. Those of us who complain about the patchwork nature of liquor licensing may care to reflect that at that time matters were regulated by no fewer than 196 burghs. That did not include the “five great central towns of Scotland”. The first four of these, obviously, were (in strict alphabetical order), Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Can you guess the fifth? See below.*

Even since the passage of the 1982 Act the changes have been many and varied. I have spent many happy-ish hours arguing about houses in multiple occupancy, yet they did not feature in the original Act, when statute regulated only rent regulation and security of tenure, and they are excluded again. A staggering 126 pages of this book are devoted to licensing of animals, an area of law which even licensing lawyers rarely touch. (I shall exclude from this a most excellent practical joke played by a former colleague on his council boss. It involved a boxing kangaroo. Beyond that my lips are sealed.)

The major reforms proposed relate to knife and scrap metal dealers, and to private car hire cars. (One wonders how much more law falls to be made about the latter, as we see the rise of companies such as Uber, and the law’s reaction to mobile technology.)

For first timers, this Act is not the most approachable, but the comprehensive introduction does set out its structure and scope, and there is a comprehensive list of case law from both south and north of the border. The form is the usual annotated statue layout. Helpfully, there are regular signposts to any defined terms.

My problem with this edition (as with the previous one) is that its usage, and therefore its usefulness, depends upon your knowing what law is in force. I may be accused of being old fashioned, but if I pay £80 for a book I want it to tell me what the law is. In their preface, the authors state their aim that this be a valuable vade mecum to the legal practitioner. They would have succeeded more had they simply delayed production until the law actually changed. I was also staggered to learn from the same preface that two of Her Majesty’s counsel learned in the law are unable correctly to spell the word “licensed”. For these reasons I can only give this work a lukewarm welcome.

(*Greenock)

Tom Johnston, Ormidale Licensing Services

Planning

4th edition

Neil Collar

PUBLISHER: W GREEN
ISBN: 978-0414019331
PRICE: £78

This is the fourth edition of what has become an invaluable “go to” book for practitioners. The law is as stated at 31 December 2015.

As the author himself states in the preface, “Planning law does not stand still.” There have been a number of changes since the third edition was published in 2010, and more changes will soon be upon us with the outcomes of the Scottish Government's Planning Review (white paper this year and a bill expected in 2017). A fifth edition can be expected soon.

All that remains to be said is that no property lawyer's library should be without a copy of this excellent book.

Professor Stewart Brymer OBE, WS, Brymer Legal Ltd

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