Reviews of Private Water Rights (Robbie); Alice in Strategy Land (Santon)

Private Water Rights

Jill Robbie

PUBLISHER: Edinburgh Legal Education Trust
ISBN: 978-0955633287
PRICE: £30

This is volume 4 in the Studies in Scots Law series and is an essential review of how the law of property regulates water in Scotland – an often overlooked subject in modern times. The author is to be congratulated on undertaking such a comprehensive review of what has been an under-researched area.

The book is an examination of the rights of landowners with regard to water flowing through their land. It does not deal with related topics such as fishing rights. It is written in three parts.

Part 1 is a review under the heading “The Division of Things” of the extent to which water is capable of ownership.

Part 2 looks at ownership of land beneath water and contains a review of the common law principles of alluvion and avulsion (doctrines which defy easy analysis), with a view to determining what landowners can do with water running through their lands. Chapter 4 contains a good analysis of the effect that water can have on the boundaries of land. As the author states at para 4-01: “Water is an unpredictable and ever-changing element.”

Part 3 considers the doctrine of common interest in respect of the limits within which landowners can exercise their ownership right of land in relation to water and the public right to appropriate water. The primary right being the right to the natural flow of water subject to the corresponding obligation not to materially interfere with natural water flow except to appropriate water for domestic purposes. In this regard, the author is rightly of the opinion that deserved praise is due to the contribution of Henry Home (subsequently Lord Kames).

Since this book is an extended version of the author’s thesis submitted for her degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 2012, it follows an established academic structure which, at times, interferes with the flow of the text from the perspective of someone who is looking to dip into it for an answer. That is not really a negative point, however. On the contrary, it is merely a minor observation which many readers may not bother about at all. The detailed analysis of the underlying law and the way in which it developed over the centuries is a very useful backdrop for practitioners seeking to deal with a particular issue. Without such an understanding, it is difficult to make any progress with such a complex subject. Matters such as who have the right to harvest kelp on the foreshore may seem an esoteric point, but it is good to see the analysis of the decided case law on the subject (para 3-17).

Since the common law of common interest has largely been abolished with regard to tenements (Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004, s 7), its ongoing application regarding rivers and lochs is of importance. As the author correctly states, common interest fills an important doctrinal gap when other legal structures fail to provide a solution.

In conclusion, this is an excellent text which should prove to be an invaluable aid to anyone involved in a dispute over private water rights. The author is to be commended for her diligence and exemplary attention to detail.

Alice in Strategy Land

Kate M Santon

ISBN: 978-1908984548
PRICE: £9.99

The main problem with management books is that there really are no new ideas, just different ways of illustrating and reiterating them. Kate Santon has come up with a novel one. Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, have been referred to before in management guides, most notably to the Cheshire Cat. When Alice asks which road she should take, the cat asks where she wants to go. When Alice replies that she doesn’t know, the cat promptly responds that it doesn’t matter which road she takes – the point being that every business needs to set its own clear direction.

Santon goes further, basing each of her 30 chapters on a small excerpt from one of the books. Her introduction, purporting to justify this approach (times are changing fast; people like stories; these are great stories), is unconvincing, but the end result is an enjoyable read. The table of contents is useful, each chapter heading followed by a two line summary of the point which is made. They are all thoroughly valid, for example the encouragement to challenge orthodoxy and conventional ideas, and to brainstorm. Sound advice is given on coping with the madness which pervades many meetings, or on refusing to be fobbed off with imaginary rules. In one or two cases the links are ridiculously convoluted. For example, the phrase "Alice could not help laughing" is used as the “inspiration” for a short chapter on the benefits of using humour in advertising and business.

On other occasions the message is bang on. I particularly liked chapters 4 and 5 on communication. In one, Santon (who describes herself a writer, editor and copywriter) warns of the power of words and the dangers when they are used loosely; in the next she cautions against the use of jargon. In essence there are 30 snippets of management wisdom here, entertainingly entwined with more or less relevant sections from two of the most engaging books in the English language. Many of us have not picked them up since childhood. I certainly plan to revisit them, and anyone looking for a readable, entertaining little management book could do much worse than buy this one.



The Author
Professor Stewart Brymer OBE, WS, Brymer Legal Ltd Tom Johnstone, Ormidale Licensing Services
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