This book undertakes the huge task of explaining several vast areas of law, and it does so admirably and comprehensively. Taken literally, 'commercial law' would encompass all law that regulates those engaged in commerce. Dr Forde addresses this point in his introductory chapter, noting Prof Roy Goode's description of it as “the branch of law which is concerned with rights and duties arising from the supply of goods and services”. He puts the law in its historical, general, and European contexts, observing the evolution of codes of law, not only to define obligations of parties, but more often recently to redress inequalities of bargaining power.
The chapters that follow take us through the bodies of law that fall into this description, starting with agency, and then moving into the areas of sale of goods and supply of services. The interlocking areas of payment and security then follow. These are followed by insurance, international trade, intellectual property, competition, regulated industries, dealing with the State, arbitration, and concluding with consumer protection.
Given that there are books that drill more deeply into many of these individual areas (or indeed separate aspects of them), this book must, in some cases, necessarily provide more of an overview. But that is essential and most welcome for those who are not experts in these areas. What distinguishes many of these areas of law is the multiplicity of their sources: for example, the chapter on international trade, which will no doubt become even more complex post-Brexit, deals extensively with the matrix of treaties, law, conventions and practices that regulate this area of commerce.
Also deserving of special mention is the chapter on intellectual property, which provides an extensive analysis (and demystification) of the many interlocking rights that can subsist under this heading. Expansive in its scope and pleasing to read, we can be grateful to Dr Forde for this expert and timely publication, which will be an essential component of the solicitor's library.
Paul Egan SC, Law Society Gazette