Book Review: The Essential Guide to Mortgage Law in Australia

the-essential-guide-intro.jpgAuthor: Matthew Bransgrove and Marcus Young SC
Publisher: Lexis Nexis Butterworths
Reviewer: Andrew Sinclair

Some books are page turners – you want to read them from start to finish. Some books are for cherry picking the interesting bits from.

This book is a bit of both. It is so well written that, despite looking up just one area, you find yourself reading back into the history of the area and onwards into questions that occur to you while reading the main issue.

It starts with a brief but thorough overview of the Torrens System and its notions of title by registration and how priorities between claimants are ranked. This is required to understand fully the following chapters. They go on to deal with establishing mortgages (The Power to Mortgage, Drafting Mortgages), how to alter them (Variation and Assignment) and their ending (Discharge).

Each chapter is a succinct summary of the current law illustrated by reference to the cases. And not too many! The authors have selected the leading cases only to establish their points, consigning other cases to the role of examples of the law’s application in particular circumstances.

The Essential Guide states the principles in a logical and clear manner in the authors’ own words. It is immensely pleasurable and valuable to be able to read a text and see the learned authors’ simple English interpretation of the law rather than a waffling summary of competing arguments with no real conclusion.

This book tells you the answers to all the questions you are likely to ask practising in this area. It is not a book aimed at students or academics though both will find much to commend in it. It is for someone dealing with a current and immediate point of practical application.

The Essential Guide deals with Mortgagees’ Rights, Mortgagors’ Rights and Notices in the same very practical manner. Sub-headings guide you to the particular area of interest and then the more specific question. Cases are provided to back the answer suggested and the legislation of all States is included in footnotes to the text which focuses on NSW. Perhaps, one of the more surprising aspects of this work is that it shows how very similar all States are in their approach to this important area of law.

The Essential Guide ends with a round of chapters dealing with the sharp end of practice: Obtaining Possession, Equitable Defences; Unjust Offences and Power of Sale. It is very current and includes the National Credit Code and Contracts Review Act (NSW).

It is often less easy to see good formatting in a textbook than it is to see bad.  But, in this case, it is evident. Simple things that LexisNexis and other publishers are increasingly paying attention to distinguish modern texts from the ones I remember at University. Each Chapter begins on new page with a coloured banner and a list of the subparagraphs titles and numbers. Paragraph numbers are bold and the white spacing of the page makes it as easy to read and navigate as the well-written text on a sometimes tricky subject allows.

For this book, the title says it all. If you want to know anything and everything about the mortgage law in Australia, The Essential Guide is the best guide I can imagine. Indeed, “essential” is not an overstated claim.

Andrew Sinclair
20 May 2014