Review of Alan M. Sinclair & Margaret E. McCallum, An Introduction to Real Property Law, 7th ed.

AuthorBabie, Paul T.
PositionToronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2017

Alan M. Sinclair published Introduction to Real Property Law in 1969. (1) While the magisterial Anger & Honsberger Law of Real Property was available to the practitioner from 1959, (2) until the publication of Bruce Ziffs Principles of Property Law in 1996, (3) Sinclair's book remained the only text available to Canadian law students on the intricacies of real property law. Through the third edition, published in 1987, Sinclair was the sole author of the book. (4) In that third edition, Sinclair stated his aim, which was the book's hallmark through each of the editions he authored:

During several years teaching the elements of the law of real property to first year law students, it has been somewhat of a chore, not always an unpleasant one, to cover the material considered basic to an understanding of this important facet of the law. This factor, combined with the ever-increasing intrusion of new concepts and additional uses of old ones into the field leads today's student and teacher to the realization that a succinct statement of the basics of the law is essential. Many of us pay less attention than perhaps we should to the fundamentals; but time controls. This small volume is an attempt to alleviate the difficulty and enable the student to assimilate these basics more readily and for the teacher to move more rapidly on a broader base. (5) The third edition contained a mere 105 pages, and it lived up to Sinclair's aim-to provide a succinct statement of the historical background to the doctrines of tenure and estates, and the rules which had been built around them to form the modern common law of real property. Uncluttered by footnotes or long expositions on the complexities of the historical and contemporary law, Sinclair's book was the perfect resource for the law student.

In 1997, Margaret McCallum joined Sinclair as an author for the fourth edition, (6) and since then the book continues to attain succinctness--it remains slim, at just under 200 pages--while adding some light footnoting and a slightly fuller treatment of the complexities surrounding real property law. (7) While joined by Ziff and an even more substantial Anger & Honsberger, Sinclair and McCallum's An Introduction to Real Property Law remains an excellent primer for the Canadian law student.

In this review, I focus on one very important contribution contained in the seventh edition. In the Preface, McCallum offers this admonition:

The aphorism that property is theft, attributed to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, is a rough summary of the following passage from his book, What is Property? Or, an Inquiry...

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