Posts Tagged 'Book Reviews'

Publisher Pricing

See http://thelifeofbooks.blogspot.com/2011/01/waiting-for-other-shoe-to-drop.html for some provocative thoughts from Rich Leiter about Law Journal Seminars Press new pricing approach and the Economist site licensing pricing.

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Book Review: CCH’s Law, Explanation and Analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

CCH’s Law, Explanation and Analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Including Reconciliation Act Impact. Wolters Kluwer, 2010. [$149.00 | 2 volumes (2110 pages) | Soft cover: 9780808022879 (Vol. 1), 9780808023425 (Vol. 2)].

CCH has closely adhered to the company’s familiar provision of publications with a combination of primary materials and analysis through its new title on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Hailing the PPACA as “the largest expansion of federal health care policy in over four decades”, CCH includes explanations of all provisions of the act and the primary law itself, as well as the text of a congressional committee report and finding tools to help navigate between their analysis and the official text. As to whether this is worth purchasing, I would suggest it for several reasons, though I do take issue with the print format usability. CCH does not yet have competition for this particular issue in print; and, as a fairly inexpensive publication with CCH’s reputation to back the quality of information, this a good buy for any law library.

This is a brand new title covering brand new law for an extremely controversial and dense topic. As such, you have to expect the organization of the material to be fairly complex. The first volume includes an Introduction that covers a brief history of health care legislation in the United States, with a focus on legislative action through 2009-2010. This is followed by a detailed explanation of how the material in the book is arranged. The analysis portion contains “Highlights” (quick summaries of major provisions in the acts) and “Explanation” sections. The explanations follow the organization structure of the law and include the legislative background, editorial aids, charts, captions which cite to specific law sections, cross references and effective dates of each section. The plentiful cross-references and citations to the text of the acts offer a great deal of support and authority for the explanations provided by CCH staff. The first volume ends with a subject index. Volume two contains the official text of the PPACA, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and a Joint Committee on Taxation report. The last resources in volume two are tables of effective dates and many more tables cross referencing Social Security, Employee Retirement Income Security, and Internal Revenue Code sections.

Not surprisingly, CCH offers this title in both print and electronic format. Access to the e-version is complimentary if you subscribe to several CCH Internet products (see health.cch.com/health-reform/ for more information). As my library does not subscribe to any of those online CCH titles (nor do we have an IntelliConnect subscription), I cannot detail my thoughts on the e-version. As for the print, it is a soft cover two volume set. CCH has additionally provided a companion web site to expand access to key legislative materials. While the cost is relatively low, and the publication does provide a comprehensive compilation of primary text and analysis, the format does not lend itself to easy usability. My conclusion is that in order to get the title published as quickly as possible in print, CCH chose the soft cover format over loose-leaf. I would not be surprised to find this item converted to a loose-leaf format, which would greatly enhance usability, as well as enable more current updating. Of course, this is a double-edged sword. Becoming a loose-leaf binder will not only almost certainly significantly raise the publication price, but also bring in yet another CCH binder subscription with the thinnest paper in the world, making filers throughout all libraries that much more eager to file away.

Katie Lynn is the Electronic Services Librarian at the Wyoming State Law Library in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Book Review: 2010 Quick Reference to European VAT Compliance

Quick Reference to European VAT Compliance. Christ Platteeuw and Pedro Pestana da Silva, Editors. Kluwer Law International, 2010. ($281 | 808 pages | Paperback, with CD-ROM: 978-90-411-2851-5).

Kluwer Law International’s 2010 Quick Reference to European VAT Compliance is a detailed guide on reporting requirements and procedures for corporations and other organizations with tax obligations in Europe. The editors are a partner (Platteeuw) and an attorney (Pestana da Silva) from Deloitte, and it is written by the firm’s European Indirect Tax Compliance Centre. The imprimatur from authorship by one of the Big Four looms large, as one can imagine that department’s lawyers and accountants consulting such a reference in their daily work. Many practitioners in the subject area could find great use for it, but those professionals might prefer it on a bookshelf in their own office instead of their library.

This reference outlines the Value Added Tax (“VAT”) systems of all twenty-seven European Union member nations, as well as Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. Although the entire volume is quite long, each country’s individual profile is kept to a reasonable length (about twenty pages). If a researcher were only concerned with (for instance) Luxembourg at the moment, she could cover all the relevant material in a very short amount of time.

Each of these chapters is broken down in a consistent way. The first section for each country is concerned with whether a VAT registration is required for any particular organization. The second deals with the designation of a local Fiscal Representative by foreign companies. The third section explains the timing and other specific requirements while registering or deregistering. The fourth and final section for each nation covers what actually has to be reported in three key systems. The periodical VAT return is usually filed on a monthly or quarterly basis (varying by country), with a summary filing once a year. The European Sales Listing, focusing on intra-community trading, is filed quarterly. The Intrastat filings (which are used for statistical purposes more than fiscal ones) are usually monthly.

The balance of the reference focuses on general information about the VAT in Europe. After an introduction featuring a history of the VAT system, basics are outlined. The reader gets an explanation of how imported goods are treated differently from goods purchased domestically, and how goods supplied to another member of the community are treated differently from goods supplied outside the community. There is a lot of focus on the Registration and Reporting systems, with less information on recordkeeping and auditing. All of this would probably be an advisable read for someone just getting into work on the topic, but it is organized in such a simple and concise manner that it makes a good reference tool as well.

The volume also comes with a CD-ROM of forms and appendices. The choice of technology is a bit antiquated for 2010, but the contents are valuable. The forms number in the hundreds, because many of the countries need their own versions of a few basic reporting forms. The eighteen appendices contain a number of helpful charts that allow quick comparisons among several nations of VAT compliance requirements.

One of the stated purposes of the book was to serve as a guide for non-Europeans who are suddenly forced to think about VAT compliance in Europe. In this respect, it will likely be a very successful tool. It nevertheless remains unnecessary for most libraries. It is designed for those few collections devoted to practitioners in finance or tax who could suddenly find themselves representing an organization trading goods in Europe.

Reviewed by Jacob Sayward, Serials Librarian at Fordham Law’s Leo T. Kissam Memorial Library

Book Review: International Development Law

International Development Law: Rule of Law, Human Rights, & Global Finance. Rumu Sarkar. Oxford University Press, 2009. ($95.00 | 496 pages | Hardcover: 9780195398281).

“While other areas of law may be more strictly aimed at producing legal outcomes that may be considered “just,” international development law also broadly captures an underlying element of equity that is directed toward poverty alleviation in order to elevate the human condition.” (International Development Law, Sarkar, pp. 124-125).

Modernism, IBRD, dependency theory, Zimbabwe, ICESCR, Weber, Janus Law Principle, ROL, Hobbes, Mexico, Czech Republic, UNIDROIT, Locke, India… it goes on and on—theories, acronyms, names, places. At first glance, 496 pages of international development and finance law appeared to be frighteningly confusing and more than a little boring, especially since I never took the time in my studies to more than touch on philosophy, business/economics, or political science. However, I have to commend Dr. Rumu Sarkar—she managed to make this bewildering topic both interesting and easy to learn.

There is a huge amount of historical and philosophical information packed into International Development Law, with smatterings of anthropological and sociological thoughts here and there, that provides a text covering the complex legal & financial issues involved in international development. And Sarkar does it in an easy to read, well-organized manner (the glossary, abbreviations list, and index are nothing to sneeze at either). The footnotes are often very helpful in providing not just her citations (to material in journals, newspapers, law reviews, books, the Internet—all over the place) but further explanations of information touched on in the main text. Though there are times when the text reads a bit repetitive, most of the time the repetition aids the reader as she re-phrases a concept to increase understanding. There are also enough typos to be noticeable; yet this is not necessarily a reflection on the author. I would recommend this book for any academic or firm library, definitely, as an academic treatise as well as a helpful guide for practicing attorneys in international development law.

Dr. Rumu Sarkar has written a treatise that combines academic insights into development law with her experiences as a practitioner. She often describes a theory or principle and then uses a real-world situation to detail the results of applying said theory. Sarkar uses a multi-disciplinary approach, beginning with the historical roots of development, and follows the legal principles formed throughout the past century. Additionally, she provides an in-depth analysis of the “human right to development”, again covering the history, theory and application of the concept then providing some thoughts for the future surrounding this question. Part II of the book links the history and theory in Part I with the global financial systems from the past several decades, including international borrowing, privatization, and how emerging capital economies today are changing development. An underlying theme throughout the book turns on the need to understand and make decisions using a contextual approach as opposed to following one or another specific theory. And though Sarkar writes much about the historical foundations of international development law, she uses this background to build a framework for the future of this complex area of law.

Though this is the first edition of International Development Law, I wouldn’t rule out future editions. Dr. Sarkar has also published Development Law and International Finance, which is in its second edition.

Katie Lynn is the Electronic Services Librarian at the Wyoming State Law Library in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Book Review: Criminal Law Conversations

Criminal Law Conversations.  Paul H. Robinson, Stephen P. Garvey, and Kimberly Kessler Ferzan, Editors.  Oxford University Press, 2009.  ($150 | 768 pages | Hardcover: 978-0-19-539163-3).

 

Criminal Law Conversations is a collection of thirty-one dialogues between multiple legal scholars on particular issues of criminal law.  The authors featured include leaders in the field, and the topics investigated are all current, if not cutting edge.  There is enough material covered to justify the volume’s expense and place in academic law libraries or the library of anyone interested in criminal law.

The most notable aspect of the book is its format.  The editors began by setting up a website and soliciting criminal law scholars to nominate works they thought worthy of discussion.  Articles and book excerpts garnering substantial support were then condensed by their respective authors, and the pooled scholars were invited to draft their own substantial comments to the texts.  The original authors then provided their own responses to these comments.  The final result was a collection of thirty-one “conversations” on a range of topics within the subject of criminal law, each including the opinions of an original author and a handful of interested commentators.

One of these dialogues begins with Meir Dan-Cohen’s theory on the differences between what he calls decision rules and conduct rules.  His initial article divides aspects of criminal law and procedure into these different groups and explores the relationship between them.  In a series of replies six legal scholars (including ones hailing from Portugal and Canada) criticize different aspects of Dan-Cohen’s article, and these replies are immediately followed by a response on Dan-Cohen’s part conceding some points while disputing others.  The major benefit of Criminal Law Conversation’s approach is that this entire discussion takes place in thirty adjacent pages of a single volume.  Arguments are not scattered across journals and years.  Moreover, the original author addresses each of the other scholars’ comments in his response, something authors of controversial law review articles not included in this compendium might or might not get around to doing.

A conversation on the effects of remorse and mercy in the criminal justice system, originating with an article of Jeffrie G. Murphy’s, explores the effect a defendant’s apology may have on sentencing or the grant of clemency.  Several of the replies discuss problems in gauging the authenticity or voluntary nature of any remorse shown.  Joshua Dressler begins a conversation with an examination of the role of provocation in the defense of excuse.  There are responses arguing that provocation belongs in the context of a justification defense instead.  Whitley R.P. Kaufman explores the imminence requirement in self-defense, particularly in the cases of “battered woman situations.”  Responding scholars take issue with Kaufman’s attempt to distinguish imminence from necessity and ascribe a political motivation to its requirement, some by offering up their own examinations of the history of the imminence rule (including the role of eighteenth-century English philosophers) and its continued successes and failings in different situations.

Each of these discussions might have taken years to organically unfold via the usual publishing model for legal scholars.  Instead, thirty-one dialogues like these fill Criminal Law Conversations, providing a thorough examination of each issue by a number of scholars actually engaging each other’s arguments.  It is not a comprehensive source, dealing only with those criminal law topics that happened to be both the subject of recent study and of interest to a significant amount of the scholarly pool consulted.  Nevertheless, it is an extremely worthwhile source for those criminal law subjects it happens to cover.  The format, though an interesting and useful twist, might soon be completely supplanted by law journal websites and professors’ blogs, which will only feature more engagement between multiple scholars on a topic as they grow in popularity.  In this way, Criminal Law Conversations might even be a harbinger of future scholarly engagement.

Reviewed by Jacob Sayward, Serials Librarian at Fordham Law’s Leo T. Kissam Memorial Library