The 8th edition of Introduction to the Law of Property provides a first introduction for an undergraduate student in property law. The contents are restricted to what the authors regard as essential for these students. Under the new authorship, the Introduction still emphasises the influence of the constitutional framework on the development of this aspect of private law and is published as part of the series of Juta’s Property Law Library. This series aims to illustrate the interplay between the common law, the constitution and legal reform in a constitutional system. In this Juta Authors profile, we discussed the book with the authors and discovered their shared insights into writing it.
Could you tell us more about your book and your intentions for wanting to write it?
We were fortunate to be allowed to update the popular Introduction to Property Law, previously co-authored by the late Prof Andre van der Walt and Prof Gerrit Pienaar. This book is very user-friendly (student-friendly) and provides a condensed version of the property law principles currently applicable in South Africa. As such it focuses mainly on explaining the basic principles of property law and does not include doctrinal debates. In this new edition, the Introduction continues to prioritise and amplify the influence of the constitutional framework on the development of property law whilst explaining current property law principles in simplified terms.
What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?
As part of Juta’s Property Law Library, this book is aimed at revisiting and reassessing property law, including the uncodified common law that is mostly embodied in case law and academic writing. However, in this new edition of the Introduction, we changed the format somewhat to make provision for the latest development in legal education. We hope that it will be even more accessible and user friendly without sacrificing the quality in terms of content. We are excited about the introduction of the interactive textbook which will hopefully assist students even more in their journey to discover the introductory principles of property law and inspire some of them to further their research in this fascinating discipline of law. We are currently finalising the updated version of the Casebook for Students (9th ed) that is used in conjunction with the Introduction.
Tell us about your writing experience. What did you find most challenging when you wrote the book?
It was challenging to align our programmes as full-time academics with the time frames we set for ourselves to complete this project. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdown, personal responsibilities and professional complications compelled us to adopt a flexible, yet disciplined and innovative approach to our writing.
Why is this subject matter important to you?
As experienced property law lecturers we understand the fact that it is an intricate and content-heavy part of Private Law. We, therefore, wanted to present the subject matter to our target audience in the most digestible manner possible.
As a writer, where do you find your inspiration?
While initially daunting, the writing experience proved to be refreshing, enlightening and very satisfying. We have all engaged in the teaching of property law for several years and thoroughly enjoyed the process of exploring material in which we have become specialised. But we stand on the shoulders of giants. Much inspiration came from the celebrated works of our predecessors and colleagues.
What kind of books would you like to see more of from up and coming South African voices?
We are very happy that the literature on property law has made significant strides in the last decade. We hope that this drive will continue to establish academic expertise in South African law and hopefully lead to the creation of international opportunities and profiles.
At this point in history, what do you feel is important social dialogue for Africa?
Marda Horn: I think we must recommit to compliance with and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law in general. But more than that, we should enliven our dedication to not only the black-letter provisions, but the spirit of the Constitution and have that be at the heart of all social justice dialogues in South Africa.
Ina Knobel: I think we need to talk about creative ways in which ordinary people can help to alleviate poverty in Africa in the long run.
Mitzi Wiese: In legal higher education collaboration between educators and practitioners is fundamental to enhance the graduateness and employability of graduates.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Marda Horn: A time will come when the time and effort required to produce a good manuscript seems insurmountable. Keep on writing. The editing process will allow you to fix mistakes, but you cannot edit empty pages.
Ina Knobel: Read extensively before you start writing.
Mitzi Wiese: For me, it was a huge advantage to work with two excellent authors. If you embark on a writing journey on your own, I would strongly recommend finding someone at your skill level that can act as your soundboard and with whom you can share your views, challenges and expectations.
What books are you reading right now?
Marda Horn: During the rare leisurely moments I have to read, I like to relax and read murder mysteries.
Ina Knobel: As a person who finds cooking relaxing – there is nothing better than reading a good cookbook – especially if it deals with food of magnificent foreign destinations. Currently, I am enjoying reading (and cooking from) The Culinary Adventures of a Travelling Cook by Natasha Barnes.
Mitzi Wiese: In my leisure time I like to read history novels.
Name the one book you believe everyone should read at least once in their lives.
Marda Horn: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
Ina Knobel: The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann
Mitzi Wiese: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak