BENJAMIN MAKES ANOTHER GOOD SALE
An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers
Just the list of names of the above editors alone sums up this book – It is a brilliantly conceived piece of work and the ultimate statement of the law of sale of goods.
It is not long ago that the first, newly formatted edition appeared (1974). This seventh edition remains the key authority in its field today. To find out a little more about its original author, Judah Philip Benjamin, the Common Law Library has produced some interesting biographical information about the man who was born in 1811 in the West Indies. Benjamin’s life makes fascinating reading and is a welcome addition as a human touch to the heavier prose of the volume.
Benjamin’s family moved to Charleston and he attended Yale College as it then was. Without completing his degree, he was called to the Bar in America, entering the legal profession at New Orleans in December 1832. Then he began writing. Ten years later he served in the State legislature, and a decade later was elected to the Senate and re-elected in 1857. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong side during the civil war and was Jefferson Davis’s Attorney General, being known as the ‘brains of the confederacy’ – Benjamin that is, not Davis!
When Lee surrendered, and with his life in danger, Benjamin escaped abroad. He arrived in England virtually penniless. A Lincoln’s Inn man, he published the “Contract of Sale” in 1868 and other works, the most well known becoming “Benjamin on Sale”. He became a silk in 1872, and a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn in 1875 but retired eight years later, living in Paris where he died on 6th May 1884.
I mention this history of a remarkable man because we have, with the seventh edition, an array of eight current experts, guided by Professor Guest as the General Editor. The team have produced the final word about selling goods in England and Wales and overseas for the lawyer. It is to the credit of Thomson Sweet and Maxwell that they maintain the highest standards of their publishing house with the contributions of such an excellent team of leading academics in the field.
Indeed, we have the foremost thinkers of the early twenty-first century reflecting on an original work which Benjamin would, I am sure, being extremely delighted to see flourishing as the UK deals with the avalanche of changes which have taken place since the book was reconstructed in 1974.
So what’s in this book it for us at the Independent Bar? Quite a few things, actually, with a thorough and updated text which supports the most relevant law for the sale of goods.
Some of the benefits include:
• a comprehensive explanation of the law of sale of goods, including terms and conditions, rights and obligations;
• establishing the formation and nature of the contract of sale;
• examining the implications of E-Commerce, including electronic contracts and payments, European Directives protecting the consumer, Letters of Credit and the eUCP 500;
• discussing the unfair contract terms in commercial and consumer sales;
• identifying the remedies available when disputes arise;
• stating a contemporary view of the latest developments in legislation and case law and their implications for all aspects of sale of goods;
• incorporation of the new Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, and recent European Union Directives protecting the consumer;
• an expert commentary on the overseas sales of Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999;
• an outline of the implications of the Consumer Credit Act, in force from March 2006; and
• an examination of new case law updates to provide a better understanding of their implications from the author team which conveys the highest level of insight and advice for practitioners.
The text offers comprehensive, high level analysis of case law and legislation regarding domestic and overseas sale of goods. No other country in the world produces anything like the Common Law Library and Benjamin is in the top three library contenders with Chitty on Contracts, and Clerk and Lindsell on Tort. The depth of analysis in the new Benjamin which is provided by recent case law shows the practitioner just how the principles have been applied and gives guidance on how to tackle any issues that might arise. Judah Philip Benjamin would be delighted to see that the finest and highest traditions of English jurisprudence are being maintained well into the twentieth first century.