John McGhee (ed), Snell's Equity, and Lynton Tucker, Nicholas Le Poidevin, and James Brightwell, Lewin on Trusts

Publication Date01 September 2016
Date01 September 2016

2015 saw the publication of new editions of two of the cornerstone texts of English equity and chancery practice: Snell's Equity (“Snell”) and Lewin on Trusts (“Lewin”), both of which have been around since the early to mid nineteenth century, and both published by Sweet and Maxwell in its “Trusts, Wills and Probate Library”. Snell has a broader focus than Lewin, purporting to encompass the whole topic of equity in England as well as the various legal institutions and rules which operate as part of it; though Lewin is far from a narrow text on trust law. It is appropriate to note that reviews of previous editions of Snell have not been universally positive (though many were), and there have been learned voices (W Swadling, “Book Review: Snell's Equity” (2011) 127 LQR 638; J Hackney, “Book Review: Snell's Equity” (2001) 117 LQR 150) questioning whether the very nature and approach of the text are appropriate for modern English law. Nevertheless, the continued authority enjoyed by the text, or at least one measurement of it, can be seen by the frequency with which it is referred to in reported cases. Lewin enjoys similar, if not greater, levels of citation in the English courts. Although neither text is perhaps “authoritative” in Scotland to the same extent as it might be in England, for obvious reasons, both have been useful for Scots lawyers in the past and it is likely that these new editions will remain so.

The texts have been extremely useful for Scots lawyers wanting to inform themselves about English law, and in order to fill lacunae in the Scottish canon of trust law scholarship. Modern and up-to-date materials dealing with Scots trust law are sparse, with the notable exception of the Scottish Law Commission's various publications as part of its reform of trust law project, and the leading text on trusts, W A Wilson and A G M Duncan, Trusts, Trustees and Executors (2nd edn, 1995), was published twenty years ago. Much has changed over those twenty years in Scots law generally and in domestic and international trust law. Both Snell and Lewin continue to satisfy the dual needs of Scots lawyers, offering access points to English trust law and equity generally, and assisting in the augmentation and updating of Scots legal practice and law.

Snell retains the organisational scheme of previous editions, dividing into seven sections: equity and equities; maxims and doctrines; equitable protection; equitable remedies; trusts; administration of assets; and...

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