By now most of you should have collected the small mountain of books that you’ll be using over the next year, so we thought it would be useful to have a look at the major ones over the next couple of weeks.
This week we are looking at the civil practitioners’ text: the White Book, also known as ‘the CPR’. You should know by now that it contains the very lengthy and detailed Civil Procedure Rules, accompanied by lots of helpful commentary and practice directions.
First top tip of the week: take both volumes of the White Book to your seminars/small group sessions/advocacy sessions until you’re absolutely sure that you won’t need anything in the second volume. Although you will often just use the first volume for a lot of topics, it is best to be prepared. Alternatively, you could ask your tutors in advance whether you will need either or both volumes for each seminar.
The White Book is, we think, one of the easiest books to find your way around once you get a handle on how it is set out.
The first step in finding anything is to have a look just inside the front cover. There you’ll see the list of Rules laid out with a rough description of what each section covers. Normally, that will be good enough to get you into the right chapter at least. If you’re after something specific though, head to the back and use the index like you usually would. Just be aware that the front cover and the index refer to both volumes of the White Book. Anything with square brackets around it thus: [ ], will be in the second volume and anything marked with a plus sign ( + ) will be on the CD, if you were given one.
If your provider is anything like ours were, you can expect lots of directions along the lines of ‘read CPR Part 23 by the next small group session’. Now there are a couple of ways of doing this. The quickest is to firstly read the parts in bold – the actual rules. It will give you an overview and will stop you looking like a complete idiot in class, but that is about it. The really useful information is in the non-bold tiny print. I’m not going to lie to you, this is not going to be the most thrilling read, but it is clear (most of the time) and fairly to the point. Reading this extra information is going to get you a decent understanding of the issues involved in making an application on that particular rule.
Where the really good marks are going to come from, though, is the application of case law. With that in mind, I would suggest the following as a plan of attack:
On a slight side note, if you are ever absolutely stuck without a copy of the White Book (yes there will become a time when you are not surgically attached to it), you can access the part printed in bold online. See the resources tab for a link. It isn’t the full White Book, but it might get you out of trouble if you suddenly realise that you need a copy of a rule for some reason. Otherwise, Westlaw is particularly easy to navigate and contains both the bold-print rules and the extra commentary too.
Next week we will be looking at the criminal practitioners’ texts – Archbold and Blackstone’s.