Vanderbilt Law Review


John W. Wade

First Page



The idea of an annual survey of the law of a particular jurisdiction is not a new one, either in this country or abroad. During a period of at least 25 years an increasing number of publications have undertaken to present such a survey. The task is a delicate one, and performances have been somewhat uneven. A mere digest of appellate opinions or a scissors-and-paste collection of expressed rules of law serves some useful purpose but scarcely justifies separate existence. On the other hand an exhaustive discussion of most of the individual decisions prevents a view of the forest for the trees. The true field of the survey should lie between these extremes. A competent survey should collect the cases, organize them and discuss them critically, referring to practically all of the cases but using discrimination in determining which of them warrant individualized treatment. The significance of these cases should be shown, including their relationship to the body of law already existing in the jurisdiction and their implications for the future; on suitable occasion comparison should be made with the state of the law in other jurisdictions and the views of text writers. The annual developments in each field of the law will thus be presented in unified perspective. Experience has shown that, for the lawyers of the jurisdiction involved, a carefully prepared survey of this sort has proved very valuable.