Book Review: Construction Law (3rd ed. 2020), by Julian Bailey

AuthorBy Stephen A. Hess
Published in The Construction Lawyer, Volume 40, Number 3 Summer2020. © 2020 American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion
thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.
Construction Law,
by Julian Bailey (3rd ed. 2020)
By Stephen A. Hess
Stephen A. Hess, based in Colorado Springs, is a member
of Sherman & Howard’s Construction Industry Practice
Group and a former editor of The Construction Lawyer.
Attorneys post ornately
framed diplomas, certifi-
cates, and testimonials on
what some observers sarcas-
tically call a “Me Wall.” I
don’t have a Me Wall—not
for want of an oversized ego
(got one) but for want of a
decent framing budget when
I started practicing. By the
time I could invest a couple
hundred bucks to broadcast
to the world—or at least to
anyone who happened upon
my ofce—that I am a member in good standing of the
Sales and Use Tax Bar Association of Greater East Mis-
soula, I had long since lost the certicate. Damn.
COVID-19 has changed the “Me Wall” dynamic. We do
not meet in ofces—we meet over the Internet in videocon-
ferences. Many of us are facile enough with teleconferences
that we do not plan to return to our ofces. That means we
cannot be judged by our Me Walls, but only by what our
visitors see behind us in our Zoom meetings. Bland curtains?
Probably a secure room in a work-release center. Not good.
Beaches and waves? Probably not thinking about the law. A
copy of An Idiot’s Guide to Contracts? Your client will get
out the Yellow Pages.1
You know where this is headed, since you are reading a
book review. A few well-chosen tomes behind you will imply
that you are educated, especially if your audience indulges
the presumption that you have actually read what is on your
shelf. Two treatises serve as my anchor tenants on the visible
portion of my library: Bruner & O’Connor on Construction
Law (which seems to expand by another volume when I am
not looking) and Construction Law, by Julian Bailey.
Construction Law is Julian’s terric, three-volume trea-
tise that covers fundamental construction law in England,
Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The current Third
Edition went into print earlier this year, and London Pub-
lishing Partnership has produced a magnicent book whose
physical quality is every bit as exceptional as its contents.
The binding is now an eye-catching but pleasing deep orange,
and the pages are thin yet comfortably opaque. These vol-
umes are solid—and I mean physically sturdy—with each
coming in at nearly four pounds, including the courtesy cord
that is sewn in for use as a bookmark. All in all, a hefty and
impressive production for attorneys who savor the touch
and feel of treatises as welcome relief from the trend toward
electronic research and digital publications.
These attributes are important to the author and to
his new publisher. The superior content is what matters
most, of course, but Bailey and LPP have been driven to
put this book out in hard copy alone to avoid the scourge
of Internet piracy, and LPP has delivered the treatise in a
most attractive form that warrants trust in the print-only
decision. Most striking, as Julian notes, is the fact that the
Third Edition has a recommended price that is a small frac-
tion (about one-fourth, to be precise) of the listed price of
the Second Edition. He hopes (as do we all!) that this starts
a trend toward publication of treatises at more reasonable
and more accessible prices. Blackwell’s, for reference, lists
the Third Edition at $168.52 for all three volumes, com-
pared with $614.79 for the 2016 Second Edition.
My assessment of the Second Edition in these pages
(37 The Construction Lawyer, Winter 2016, at 42) stands—
“the writing is efcient and pellucid,” etc.—and it was a
sound investment at four times the price. The scope has not
changed measurably, but the contents have been updated
with countless new references and updates that make the
treatise an accurate statement of the law through Novem-
ber of last year.
The treatise is invaluable as a reference for those who
practice in the four jurisdictions it covers, of course. At
the same time, it offers a wonderful overview to Ameri-
can practitioners in two respects. First, the introduction
to construction contracts and law generally is superb and
among the most cogent I have come across for those new
to the world in which we practice. Second, it is refreshing
to read about different approaches to discrete construction
law topics as a reminder that many American construction
law principles are neither obvious nor inevitable, but rather
required consideration and deliberate choice among equally
plausible alternatives.
I believe that construction law (as most areas) is far more
fully appreciated with some sense of its history, the com
mercial role, and the conscious adoption of legal principles
(or blind adoption, in some cases), and Construction Law
serves us well—and at less than the cost of a frame for your
Most Amazing and Respected Lawyer EVER certicate.
1. For younger attorneys, “Yellow Pages” denotes an anti-
quated advertising mechanism in which consumers could judge
attorneys by the audacity of their listings. “Hammerhead Hess”
would have drawn clients.
Stephen A. Hess

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