Image thanks to conner395 on

The Law Bod fully acknowledges that bagpipes are part of the culture of many nations, but as we are in England the mention of pipes brings our neighbours Scotland and Ireland first to mind.  (The previous links are probably not recommended for exiles whose heartstrings are easily touched over Christmas.)

We have found it impossible to link eleven meaningfully to these jurisdictions – or to divide eleven diplomatically between the two! So we shall resort to humour – but not a joke involving persons walking into a bar. A BBC Scotland comedy sketch available on YouTube  shows voice recognition software struggling with understanding the spoken word eleven.  The difficulty of conveying meaning via language (though written) is one well-known to lawyers and legislators.

As has been mentioned in previous posts, the jurisdictions of the British Isles are at the forefront of the Library’s long-term project to reclassify our  monograph/text-book/treatise (or sources of secondary law from a common law standpoint!) collections according to the Moys classification scheme. Named after Betty Moys, founding member of British and Irish Association of Law Librarians, who developed the scheme to improve the  Library of Congress’s K Classification. The Law Bod is proud  that one of our current staff was on the editorial board of the recently published 5th edition.

  • KL12 is the shelf mark for introductions to the Scottish legal system
  • KL15 is the shelf mark for introductions to the Irish legal system
  • KL402 is the shelf mark for works on Scottish legal history (such as Stair Society volumes)
  • KL403 is the shelf mark for works on Irish legal history (including publications of the Irish Legal History Society)

In the public law (KM) and private law (KN) sections, a geographical code is often inserted into the shelf mark to indicate jurisdiction: Ireland is I5 (capital i number 5) and Scotland is S3 (capital s, number 3).

The primary sources (legislation and case law) and law journals for all the countries of the British Isles  are still shelved according to jurisdiction, with old style shelf marks. For example Irish Jurist is Ireland 300 I50, the Edinburgh Law Review is Cw UK Scotl 300 E15.

As Scotland is (at least as this blog is being posted!) part of the United Kingdom, it is obvious for our readers to turn to LexisLibrary and Westlaw UK to find Scottish primary sources and law journals.  They may be less aware of the commentary which is also available to them via these databases.  For example Lexis has the Laws of Scotland Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia. As the example of when an owner’s free right of use of his property may be limited the Encyclopedia has  “if it causes a nuisance to a neighbour, for example, playing the bagpipes at 2 am in a quiet residential area.” (v.18 para. 533.)

As all humans tend to be creatures of habit,  law students can forget there is a world beyond Westlaw,  Lexis – and if it’s a US journal HeinOnline! so we’d like to remind them of the strength of  Justis if they need Irish case law. Compared with the others the drop down menus on the home page/basic search screen of Justis (see below) make light work of finding & selected non-UK cases!

On Quick search screen use drop down menus to see what Irish law reports are available

A search of Justis’s Irish case law  for bagpipes quickly uncovers the case of Murray v Electricity Supply Board [High Court] [2012] 7 JIC 1704 where the loss of the ability to play the bagpipes without pain was considered when assessing damages following  injury at work. The same consideration had come up earlier in Scotland Cruickshank v Perthshire Housing Association Ltd 2009 S.C.L.R. 64.

Returning to the print collection one last time, we should say that the Moys scheme allows a special shelf mark for Celtic Legal History at KE330.