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Inprint: Book reviews

Every Issue

Cite as: Jan/Feb 2010 84(1/2) LIJ, p.62


This month’s reviews cover Victorian criminal procedure, banking law, the arguments against a bill of rights and the law of valuation.

Criminal Investigation and Procedure

Christopher Corns and Steven Tudor, Criminal Investigation and Procedure: The law in Victoria, 2009, Thomson Reuters (Professional), pb $89.99.

Criminal law procedure in Victoria has undergone a significant change. On 1 January 2010, the Evidence Act 2008 came into effect, bringing Victoria in line with the Uniform Evidence Act already in effect in NSW, Tasmania and the Commonwealth. The Criminal Procedure Act 2009, which also commenced at the start of the year, aims to codify Victorian criminal procedure.

This book is one of the first to incorporate these changes and includes both the preceding law and the new legislation. Readers already knowledgeable in criminal law procedure will find that this book places the new legislation into context and assists in understanding how the reforms follow, adapt or depart from the preceding law.

The authors contend that criminal procedure can be broken into five stages – investigation, prosecution, trial, sentencing and appeal. This book has a significant focus on the investigation stage, with approximately two-thirds of the text dedicated to the laws of investigation. This includes arrest, bail, questioning, identification and covert investigations. The other four stages receive a chapter each. In contrast to Fox’s Criminal Procedure, which essentially provides commentary with footnotes, the authors of this book go into criminal law procedure in depth in an easy-to-read format and, where relevant, include summaries of case law and legislation.

The book is designed for students, practitioners and investigators. For those new to criminal law, it will provide a detailed introduction to criminal procedure. Indeed, the book started as a series of university lecture notes and it will not be surprising if it becomes prescribed reading at all Victorian law schools and the Police Academy. While in many ways it is likely to be too simplistic for practitioners already working in the jurisdiction, this first edition, with its explanations of the reforms, will be beneficial to experienced practitioners who want a clear and concise summary of the new law.

ROBIN M SMITH, Barrister

Everett and McCracken’s Banking and Financial Institutions Law (7th edn)

Sheelagh McCracken and Anna Everett, Everett and McCracken’s Banking and Financial Institutions Law (7th edn), 2009, Thomson Reuters (Professional), pb $124.95.

Anyone who remembers early editions of Everett and McCracken’s Banking and Financial Institutions Law will recall relatively slim volumes, very readable but implicitly inviting further reading elsewhere. However, more recent editions with the addition of further material have made it a more complete work. The seventh edition continues this trend. And yet, whereas subsequent editions of many legal texts suffer by reason of the uneven addition of further material and the initial clarity of early editions is lost, this is not the case here. Rather, Everett and McCracken have lifted their work into a higher rank of comparable texts. The good news about this latest edition is that the structure and clarity commend it as one of the leading introductory academic texts on banking law.

The book’s scope is broad. Its 21 chapters are arranged into six parts which span the macro to the micro aspects of banking, addressing the topics of the regulatory framework; financial markets; the business of banking; payment instruments; and taking security. The regulatory framework and the place of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority are discussed, as are influences on the framework, including the revised Capital Adequacy Framework (also known as “Basel II”). However, the day-to-day business of banking is also covered, the familiar topics of cheques, bills of exchange and letters of credit being discussed in some depth. Electronic banking is given space, and the brief discussion of Bankruptcy Law in Chapter 18, which deals with the financial distress of borrowers, is a useful introduction to this topic.

The authors comment in their preface that writing this latest edition through 2008 proved an “interesting and at times somewhat surreal experience” as the “credit crunch” transformed into the “global financial crisis”. They refer to this background as evidence of the importance of finance law as an area of academic study. To this comment should be added the advice that a firm understanding of the material covered in this book is invaluable for those seeking to be conversant in banking law at a time when the ramifications of banking activities are so pervasive. This book is well recommended as a starting point.

ANDREW FIELD, Senior Lecturer, Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University

Don’t Leave Us with the Bill

Julian Leeser and Ryan Haddrick (eds), Don’t Leave Us with the Bill: The case against an Australian bill of rights, 2009, The Menzies Research Centre Limited, pb $30 plus $10 p&h.

Don’t Leave Us with the Bill: The case against an Australian bill of rights discusses the issues at the core of a significant public debate that touches on the lives of all Australians. Well-known advocates for a bill of rights have published books on the subject that have been widely publicised. This compilation of papers focuses on the arguments against an Australian bill of rights from the perspective of some of Australia’s most eminent legal figures, social and political commentators and scholars.

In the introduction to the book, editors Julian Leeser and Ryan Haddrick state that those “pressing the case” for change bear the burden of proving “not only that the current system is not working” but that their “model for reform provides the best method for making the system work better”. This book confronts those who carry the baton for change in an insightful and compelling way.

Contributors include former Prime Minister John Howard, Ian Callinan QC, former Solicitor General for the Commonwealth David Bennett, the Chief Justice of Queensland Paul de Jersey, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, Cardinal George Pell and Sir Ninian Stephen.

The book is in five parts, commencing with a chapter providing a general overview of the debate, followed by chapters dealing with tensions between a bill and the separation of powers doctrine, specific challenges that any introduction of a bill of rights would have to overcome and a chapter exploring cultural and historical perspectives.

In the final part, perhaps the most helpful section for legal practitioners, the success of bills of rights in operation in the UK, the ACT and Victoria is addressed. The chapter by Melbourne lawyer and writer Ben Jellis is of particular moment as the impact of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 continues to develop in this state.

This work is an important contribution to the debate. The book deals front on with significant aspects of our relationship with the state and our fellow citizens and how this is changing.

It is highly recommended reading for interested citizens.

CHRIS TAM, Judge’s associate

The Law Affecting Valuation of Land in Australia (4th edn)

Alan Hyam, The Law Affecting Valuation of Land in Australia (4th edn), 2009, The Federation Press, hb $145.

The book explains the law of valuation, commencing with Spencer’s case, in which Isaacs J explained the principles of valuation for compensation for land resumed by the Crown. Isaacs J’s reasoning remains sound and the basis for all that has followed.

Alan Hyam explores the laws surrounding valuation and compensation in a most thorough manner, although even the most experienced valuers tell me that they prefer Murray or Rost and Collins (now out of print for nearly 20 years), when it comes to the question of how to value. This new edition cites more than 1080 cases, over 200 more than the previous edition which was published in November 2004. I was only able to recognise a few new Victorian cases, with most of the new cases in this edition coming from NSW reports. Nonetheless, it is Hyam’s fourth edition which I have seen most commonly on the desks of barristers I visit.

As a practitioner, when you enter a new field the first thing you tend to do is go straight for the section on how to litigate, followed rapidly by the sections or chapters on the law relating to the matter you are required to prosecute. So, while the most important matter of principle to be determined in Victoria in recent years gets a whole page in the chapter on “Valuations Appeals Procedure” (Morris J in ISPT Pty Ltd v City of Melbourne [2007] VCAT 652), practitioners are left to determine for themselves the processes and procedures for litigation at the most common venue for valuations litigation, VCAT.

In order for the author’s very extensive discussion of the common law to be useful, practitioners need to be wary that in the field of valuation, legislation which at first seems to be common between the states has nuances which require careful examination before a finding of principle can be translated into a useful authority in another state.

CHRIS DURSTON, Senior Solicitor, Land Victoria Legal

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