William Forbes, THE INSTITUTES OF THE LAW OF SCOTLAND, with an introduction by Hector L MacQueen Edinburgh: Edinburgh Legal Education Trust, Old Studies in Scots Law, vol 3, 2012. xxx + 912 pp. ISBN 9780955633249. £30.Henry Home, Lord Kames, PRINCIPLES OF EQUITY, THIRD EDITION, with an introduction by Daniel J Carr Edinburgh: Edinburgh Legal Education Trust, Old Studies in Scots Law, vol 4, 2013. lii + 431 pp. ISBN 9780955633256. £30.

Date01 May 2014
AuthorAndrew Herd
Published date01 May 2014

One of the greatest joys of Scots law is that its study is traditionally also the study of history. The books presently under review will undoubtedly contribute to that tradition, increasing awareness of two writers who were influential to the development of Scots law. William Forbes's The Institutes of the Law of Scotland and Lord Kames's Principles of Equity are invaluable additions to any modern library. The books are an excellent window into legal attitudes, perspectives and approaches in seventeenth and eighteenth century Scotland. To the dedicated reader, both texts also offer up a colourful insight into two of the most interesting intellectual characters in Scottish legal history. The books are the third and fourth instalments in the Old Studies in Scots Law series, which is edited by Professor Kenneth Reid and published by the Edinburgh Legal Education Trust. In keeping with the rest of the series, both books contain a facsimile reprint of the original text and a helpful and incisive accompanying editorial introduction.

The first work under review here was written by William Forbes. Forbes, an Advocate and Professor of the University of Glasgow, was one the most prolific Scots legal authors writing in the early 18th Century. Whilst Forbes's work does not display the flair or erudition of the institutional writers of the 17th Century, it spans a variety of areas and sheds light on contemporary legal thought and social-political attitudes. Forbes's work is a valuable topic of study because it spans a period of intense social, economic and legal change. His writing career covered what was perhaps the most important legal development in Scottish history, the 1707 Union with England, and his works consider the important consequences of that Union for trade, taxation, and criminal policy.

The Institutes of the Law of Scotland is the best known of Forbes's works and easily the most accessible. This edition is accompanied by an excellent historical introduction by Hector L MacQueen, which provides a fascinating insight into Forbes himself. The Institutes was the first publication in which Forbes deviated from his pattern of writing specialist treatises on Scots law. In this work he wrote on law in general: a textbook for the use of his students. The work was originally...

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