Lawyers and publishers team up to provide core legal texts

A charitable initiative to divert second-hand law books around the world aims to replenish the Supreme Court of Grenada’s law library following its destruction last year by Hurricane Ivan.

The International Law Book Facility was launched last week by Lord Justice John Thomas, with the support of Book Aid International. It aims to provide core legal texts to legal professional bodies, pro bono groups and law schools involved in access to justice in the common law jurisdictions of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

“The establishment of the rule of law is most obvious in underpinning individual liberty and democratic government but the development of successful modern economies cannot take place without it,” said Thomas LJ, a trustee of the group. “No judiciary can accomplish this task without the help of lawyers that have access to good libraries.”

The scheme marks the first time the UK legal profession and publishing industry have come together in a national effort to raise funds and collect and distribute books to international jurisdictions.

Legal publishers LexisNexis Butterworths, Sweet & Maxwell, Jordan Publishing and Tottel Publishing are working together to identify the core legal texts that will make an impact.

The scheme’s trustees include William Blair QC of Three Verulam Buildings, Anesta Weekes QC, chair of the British Caribbean Jurists Group, and Nicholas Munday, a partner at Clifford Chance. “We have already received 100 cases of books and more are arriving each day,” said Paul Lowenstein, a barrister at Three Verulam Buildings. “They will be going to sub-Saharan Africa, the poorer parts of Asia and the Caribbean.”

The projects include Grenada’s Supreme Court law library, law societies, law colleges, law centres and pro bono groups.

“The beauty of the new scheme is the involvement of the publishers,” said Lowenstein. “The new editions of books that we particularly want will take flyers which will say, ‘Why not donate your old version of this’, and on the back there will be a document exchange label. The hope is that they will literally send out the old books on the document exchange and they will then arrive at our store.”

“All of us who work on this project feel that what we are doing is in tune with the times,” Lowenstein added. “We hate the idea of the waste that goes on with old law books.”