Law books for practitioners are sometimes very different to books designed for law students or academic researchers. Law books don’t always travel well, as laws vary between jurisdictions. For some, books are yesterdays’ technology, and the best way of obtaining legal information is by subscribing to an online service.
With these defences out of the way, here is IP Draughts’ list of the top 9 law books that he finds useful as a practitioner working in the areas of commercial and IP law. Following the approach of judges of the Eurovision Song Contest, he rules out voting for any of his own books.
- Chitty on Contracts. First published in the nineteenth century, and evolving through thirty editions, this multi-volume work is a kind of bible for contract lawyers. For some inexplicable reason it is not found in a bedside drawer in every hotel room in the world.
- Interpretation of Contracts. An important aspect of contract law is how the courts go about interpreting contracts. This book is arguably better than Chitty on contract interpretation, which is high praise indeed. As a barrister, the author Kim Lewison QC specialised in landlord and tenant disputes. As a judge of the Patents Court and, very recently, the Court of Appeal, he has become a specialist in IP law. In both areas, questions of contract interpretation are often at the heart of commercial disputes.
- Manual of Style for Contract Drafting. The author, Ken Adams, left legal practice some years ago to concentrate on writing and teaching. He has thought about and fine-tuned the principles set out in this book over many years. IP Draughts agrees with most of those principles. Occasionally, he detects a US focus in Ken Adams’ prescriptions, but in most cases the recommendations can be followed in the UK. This book deserves to be included in the top 10 list.
- Drafting Patent License Agreements. This book provides an excellent discussion of the legal and commercial issues that affect patent licence agreements, and wise advice on how such agreements should be structured and drafted. Unlike Adams, the authors make no claims for the book being suitable for use outside the USA. It is necessary to apply a UK legal filter, to ask “does this work in the UK”, but in most cases the answer to this question will be yes.
- Hewitt on Joint Ventures. About to be published in its fifth edition, this book is a paradigm for how books on commercial transactions should be written. The subject-matter in this case is commercial joint ventures, but the general approach of the book could be followed to advantage in many other areas of legal practice. Clearly-written, focussed discussion of legal principles and practice points, in a well-organised, logical package.
- CIPA Guide to the Patents Acts. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys’ Guide to the Patents Acts is an excellent compendium of information about UK patent laws. Its value lies in the detailed notes and commentary that it provides on each section of the patents legislation. There are other excellent texbooks on UK patent law (eg the Terrell or Roughton tomes), but none of the others provides the detailed, practical information that the CIPA Guide does.
- Bellamy & Child: European Community Law of Competition. Another lawyers’ bible, this time on the subject of EU competition law. Good for a detailed overview of competition law; for answers to detailed questions about EU competition law and IP, read Bellamy and Child first before turning to more IP-focussed materials (eg one of Professor Val Korah’s monographs).
- The White Book. Previously, this publication had the more formal name of the Supreme Court Practice, but it was always referred to popularly as the White Book; now the latter appears to be its official name. It sets out the English rules of civil court procedure together with detailed notes and commentary. Essential reading for anyone contemplating, or engaged in, litigation in England and Wales. See Volume 2 for a discussion of proceedings in the Patents County Court and other IP proceedings.
- ICSA’s Company Secretarial Practice. The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators publishes this very useful guide to company secretarial practice, which includes commentary and specimen forms on a wide range of topics.
This would have been a “top 10” list, except that we ran out of books that qualified. There are other, valuable books on IP and commercial law subjects, but none that we can think of that seems to merit inclusion in this list. Perhaps you know differently…?