BOOK REVIEW - CARVER ON CHARTERPARTIES (2nd Edition)
General editor Howard Bennett, LLB (Lond), LLM (Paris), LLM (Lond), Barrister (MT), Hind Professor of Commercial Law, University of Nottingham. Sweet & Maxwell, London (2020) ccxxvii and 1557 pp, plus 33 pp Index. Hardback £325.
Digitisation of books can be both a boon and a burden. It makes them more accessible (for those who benefit from a subscription) and easier for incremental updating. Yet that is not inevitably positive, for sometimes there is a need for serious rewriting, rather than simply amendment of an existing text. Also, the constant call for revision is likely to be a burden for authors, which may eventually prove to be detrimental to standard practitioner books, for leading books require high-quality authors; and practitioner authors are likely to be preoccupied with practice; whereas, though once academic authors could formerly expect kudos from association with leading texts, the world of academe is now more likely to count it against them, as well as affording them less time for it.
If there is an impending crisis for the provision and quality of such books, fortunately Carver on Charterparties has so far managed to avoid it. The book was first published in 2017 and the second edition follows hotly on its heels. There has already been a slight reduction and readjustment within the team of authors but (interestingly, when one considers the shift of emphasis from traditional commercial law subjects in recent years to other areas of commercial law) there has been sufficient new material to justify a new edition. These include two Supreme Court cases: The Ocean Victory  UKSC 35 (on safe ports); and the controversial decision in Volcafe Ltd v Cia Sud Americana de Vapores SA  UKSC 61 (on inter alia the burden of proof in cargo claims), which some may be inclined to pigeonhole as a bill of lading rather than strictly speaking a charterparty case, but illustrates the interconnectedness of aspects of carriage of goods by sea. Likewise, discussion of knock-for-knock provisions, which is commonly found in relation to towage contracts, is now included.
Unfortunately, dealing comprehensively with all topics relating to a subject can make for a big, and growing, book, so it will be a continuing challenge for the authors to confine it to an appropriate size. Even so, although there are good and well-known other books dedicated to particular charterparties, and with specific treatment of standard form clauses, a subject such as charterparties needs at least one good book which brings the whole subject together. This is that book and it does the job well; and, one hopes without expanding too much, long may it continue to do so.