Civil Procedure – Commentary and Materials (7th Edition)
Authors: Colbran, Spender, Douglas & Jackson
Publisher: Lexis Nexis Butterworths
This is a mammoth book, with Australia-wide coverage. But when initially thumbing through this teaching book, I admit I wondered about its use in practice. But I was trying to use the book in the wrong way. I think I have found the right way to use it.
Recently, I had to familiarise myself in a general way, and quickly, with an entire topic. Wanting to provide more than the usual platitudes, I turned to Chapter 11 on Class Actions, and found detailed treatment with critical material, which rounded out my understanding of this area.
More recently, needing to refresh quickly before a hearing, I turned up the section about trial of a separate issue. I was taken straight into a leading Queensland Full Court case, including citation to other Full Court authority interstate.
Although I have not had occasion yet to test all propositions stated in this Goliath of a book, it does appear to have involved extensive interrogation of each jurisdiction’s legislation and rules, down to relevant practice statements in some cases.
This book will have two challenges on the shelf. In some senses, it is too general to assist in some of the matters that confront the Bar. But that is simply a question of knowing how to use the book. I think it works well as a general way of breaking the back of an entire area and, in particular, finding critical material to enable me to challenge existing shibboleths.
How does it sit with the practitioner product, Zuckerman on Australian Civil Procedure? Well, Zuckerman also necessarily deals with matters at a certain level of abstraction, given Australia’s bent for having rules suiting the local conditions in each State, and then three superior Federal Courts of Record with their own rules. That is not the fault of the editors. What one finds in Zuckerman is a fairly compressed treatment but that, sometimes, suits the busy practitioner.
I think Colbran et al suits more the teaching market but will be handy to have on the shelf, somewhere in chambers, for just the kind of task I eventually asked of it - to learn something at a higher and broader level about an entire area, really quickly, including material critical in that area.
Colbran et al is in its seventh edition and is thus obviously a successful text. The authors include some well-known to the Queensland profession, with a publication track record that also bodes well.