An Ungodly Jumble of Light Reading

Tips from CLBC

April 2022

Ah, ownership. The simple right to enjoy and dispose of things in the most absolute manner… subject only to whatever restrictions can be found in law… and therefore to the many restrictions, exceptions, and complexities borne from centuries of common law since the age of Norman feudalism.

You’ll no doubt agree that a topic like the law of ownership is why we are so indebted to brave legal authors who attempt legal treatises. Sir William Blackstone’s 1766 treatise, Commentaries on the Laws of England, is a great example of such a work. The Commentaries comprised four volumes and summarized all the law that was fit to know (at least a quarter century ago): I. The Rights of Person; II. The Rights of Things; III. Of Private Wrongs; and IV. Of Public Wrongs.

The second volume is dedicated to property rights and various flavours of ownership in corporeal and incorporeal things, and is by far the longest of Blackstone’s volumes at 520 pages. It was a valiant attempt to untangle the feudal mess of property laws that Oliver Cromwell disparaged as an “ungodly jumble.” If you’re curious, we have two sets of Blackstone’s great work in the 1898 edition, one in each of our Vancouver and Victoria branches.

Admittedly, the volumes of Commentaries are a bit dated — and it has been said that Blackstone’s discussion of trusts always left something to be desired. Thus, it may please you to know that we also have the 2021 (fifth) edition of Waters’ Law of Trusts in Canada available for loan. You might also be interested in commentary on real property law that leans less toward the ancient and esoteric, and more to the practical and jurisdictionally relevant, in which case we offer comprehensive access to the various real estate-specific titles published by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, including deskbooks, practice manuals, and volumes of annotated precedents.