Session Cases: Celebrating 200 years of Scotland’s prestigious law report series

A row of leather bound books fills the frame from left to right. The title 'Session Cases' and the year are embossed on the spines. The leather is blonde and each spine has a red and black square.

Session Cases volumes 1971-1982, image courtesy of the Supreme Court Library team, SCTS.

This year the Scottish Council of Law Reporting celebrates 200 years of publishing Session Cases, Scotland’s most authoritative law report series. From the SCLR website:

The Session Cases law report series contains all the key appellate decisions, civil and criminal, from the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary in Scotland together with selected cases decided at first instance.

Also included in Session Cases are all decisions, as issued, on Scottish appeals to the House of Lords and to the Privy Council. All judgments are reported in full.

The judges who gave opinions (judgments) in each case have the opportunity to review the report before it is published – this gives Session Cases its unsurpassed authority in Scottish courts.

The first case ever published in Session Cases was Rev. Wm. Strang v Wm. McIntosh (1821) 1 S.5, dated 12 May 1821. You can access a copy of this case via our subscription databases Westlaw or Lexis Library UK, via the Law Databases page. If you’re not familiar with using these databases we have a recording of a session on Using Legal Databases available here (22 mins) There’s more information about SC and other law reports available via our subscription services on the Law Subject Guide ‘Law Reports’ page.

To mark this anniversary the Scottish Council of Law Reporting is running a poll to determine readers’ top three cases featured in Session Cases. They don’t have to be the most important cases, legally, but may be just a quirky case or one that has caught your interest. You can vote for your cases here: SurveyLegend Survey.

Another way SCLR marked this milestone was by creating a postgraduate research scholarship available to students in Scottish institutions studying Scots Law. The inaugural recipient of this award was Shona Warwick, a PhD candidate at Edinburgh. The scholarship will contribute to her tuition and living costs as she completes her PhD thesis on Leases and Licences in Scotland. From the SCLR headlines page describing Shona’s research:

For commercial landlords and tenants in Scotland, the common law, rather than legislation, is the source of most rules. Yet, despite its widespread practical importance, a lack of research has left the common law regarding leases and licences to occupy riddled with uncertainty. Through a historical study, this research sheds light for the first time on some of the most fundamental unanswered questions: it evaluates which occupancy agreements can be validly created, and how their formation requirements differ.

The announcement of Shona’s success featured in the Scottish Legal News bulletin in September last year. Shona is also the winner of one of the two Scottish Universities Law Institute (SULI) Scholarships. Congratulations Shona!

Three new things: Dissertations

It’s around the time where many of our students will be planning and beginning the research for their dissertations. If you’re at the start of this journey and looking for a bit of help we’ve got three new things which we hope will help you on your way.

1: Llm Dissertation : How to Maximise Marks for Your Practice Focused Dissertation by Suzanne Reece.

Book cover, which features an orange background and a student sitting at a desk facing away from the viewer. Visible on the desk are a laptop and many open books, and there are number hovering around the student's head, implying they are surrounded by research data.

This book is brand new to the library and while it is focused on specifically LLM dissertations, it contains useful information about how to plan for any large research project in Law. Chapters include helping choose your topic, planning and timing, and #SurvivalTips. Reece identifies top tips and common mistakes in students’ work and suggests activities to help you explore your research thoroughly. As such it’s more of a handbook than a set of rules to follow, but we think it will help answer many of the frequently asked questions that students have early in the process.

We have this ebook on an unlimited user license, which means that there’s no waiting and no queue to take it out. Find access information via the DiscoverEd record for this item.

2: Dissertation Festival (Guide and Festival Bag)

You may have seen that Library Services ran our second Dissertation Festival for the year in March 2021. While the festival events don’t exactly line up with Law Dissertation timetable, the wonderful thing about hosting the festival online is that we can keep the resources around for you to access just when you need them most!

  • Are you looking for some inspiration for which of the library collections can help you with your research?
  • Do you need some support in constructing your search strategy, or managing your results?
  • Would you like some tips from students who’ve previously completed their dissertation work?

The Dissertation Festival subject guide has all this and much more available with the click of a button! Recordings are available for our live sessions and slides have been added.  Plus you can access my favourite part, the festival tote bag (not a real bag) via the link on the front page. We can’t furnish you with free pens and post-its for the next academic year, but we do have an image of a penguin and a bagpiper from our collection that you can use as your Zoom background…

3: A twitter thread on #EdLitSearchTips

Our Academic Support Librarian colleagues have been compiling a list of tips that will help you get started with literature searching. Although you may have used DiscoverEd or our Library Databases to find materials for your assignments before, click through to this series of tweets to get advice from information professionals whose business it is to help you find information!

A screen capture of a tweet which features a black and white image of the corner of a laptop, a mug containing many pens and other stationery, and another mug.  The text in the tweet reads "The librarians often get asked for advice on literature searching - so over the next few weeks we will be tweeting some hints and tips! So look out for our #EdLitSearchTips".

Click this image to find a list of #EdLitSearchTips

If you’re struggling to get started with your research, why not arrange a one-to-one with one of the Law Librarians to discuss your research question and which direction you’d like to go? We can help suggest resources or even just provide advice on the best way to go about searching. Look out for the next available ‘Literature search clinic’ appointment using the MyEd Booking System and find the option for ‘Law’. Further details on how to book can be found on this earlier post on our blog, or just email law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Click & Collect comes to the Law Library

The Law Library now is part of the Click & Collect Service!

The Click & Collect service has been expanding since it’s launch in Feb 2021. As of 29th March 2021 staff and students are able to place Click & Collect requests for print material from the Law Library collections.

The Law Library resources are in addition to those already available from the Main Library, New College Library, ECA Library and University Collections Facilities. Items based at other site libraries are not yet available for Click & Collect.

To order a book collection using the service:

  • Place your request through DiscoverEd.
  • You can order up 3 Click & Collect items at any one time. The maximum number of requests covers your total current Click & Collect requests.
  • All items requested should be collected from the Main Library as the Law Library remains closed.
  • Staff will undertake retrievals of items requested from the Law Library once a week (Tuesdays). So depending on when you place your request it may mean that it may take over a week for you to receive an email notification that your requested item is available for collection.
  • Once you have received an email notification that your requested Law Library item is available you should make a booking to collect your item from the Main Library.

Full details of the service are available on the main Library Click and Collect Service webpages:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/library-services-update-2020-21/click-and-collect

Don’t forget that the Scan & Deliver Service is also available to you!

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/using-library/request-resources/scan-and-deliver%20

 

New Resources

A poster stating 'Edinburgh Everywhere: your library online' and depicting people busy with stacks of books surrounding a half-globe. Statistic about library services are shown in colourful circles are written across the middle of the page, echoing the half-circle shape of the globe.

Throughout the year the Law Librarians purchase new materials – sometimes following requests, and other times to ensure that new editions of established and key texts are available to staff and students. This part of our work has been especially busy this last year as learning and teaching has gone online!

Requests are received from students, staff and colleagues from across the Law School. Some are related to specific courses, but many are to support the research undertaken by staff and students.

We thought we would take this opportunity to let you know about a few of the new items we have recently ordered and received in:

This last item is a 13 volume set comprising of around 9000 pages, making it an incredibly helpful resource on the topic of the history of the Kurdish people. Having access to this material makes Edinburgh one of a select number of universities who give access to their students and staff to this unique resource.


Staff and students can place requests directly using the online forms available on the Library webpages.

If we cannot purchase the item (may be it is an older edition, out of stock, or not available in the online format you want) then we recommend you use the Interlibrary Loan Request Service which allows us to try to source access from other libraries or academic institutions.

If you would like us to consider a subscription, or you want to discuss your request further you can email us in the usual way using law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Happy reading!

The problem with ebooks

Two hands enter the screen, one from each side of the image. One is holding a smartphone which has a book spilling out of the side, the other has a pile of paper currency which is being offered in exchange.

Image from mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

Working and studying through the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that we’re more reliant on ebooks and other electronic resources than ever before. As much as we would have liked for this to be a seamless transition to hybrid learning, it’s been a struggle throughout the year to make sure that we have access to all the essential materials you need for your coursework.

One of the reasons that we’re not always able to provide ebook access is that publishers do not always make their material available electronically. They may do this for a number of reasons, one of which is that they are worried they will not make the same amount of profit from print book sales as they usually would. They may also make the price of the ebook much much higher than the price of an individual print book to compensate for this potential loss of sales. For us in the Law school, we have found problems where publishers make books only available if you purchase access to an entire database of resources, often for hundreds of thousands of pounds, when we only need access to a handful of ebooks. This is not a realistic way for us to purchase access – budgets for resources are limited and getting tighter every year.

Some academic librarians in the UK have joined forces to launch an investigation into this spike in ebook prices and limits to availability because it is seriously affecting the courses that universities are able to run. You can read more about this campaign and the open letter sent to the UK Government asking for support here: https://academicebookinvestigation.org/ 

More recently, this campaign has had some publicity in national newspapers including this article in The Guardian by Anna Fazackerley, ‘Price gouging from Covid: Student ebooks costing up to 500% more than in print’:  https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jan/29/price-gouging-from-covid-student-ebooks-costing-up-to-500-more-than-in-print

Last week it was announced that the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has petitioned the Competitions and Markets Authority to investigate this issue:
https://academicebookinvestigation.org/2021/02/04/chartered-institute-of-library-and-information-professionals-cilip-formally-petitions-competition-and-markets-authority-cma-to-investigate-practices-of-academic-ebook-publishers/ 

We wanted to draw your attention to these items so that you’re aware that action is being taken at a national level, and that librarians and academics are working hard to ensure that higher education institutions are not held to ransom over ebook access. The issues we’re facing here in Edinburgh are not unique, but they are very worrying.  We hope that the investigations that are now being proposed will result in fairer and more equitable access for all in future.

If you’re worried about ebook access to core material for your course please speak to your course organiser or email us, law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.