When Saskatchewan lawyers want a text on statutory interpretation, they usually ask for Driedger on the Construction of Statutes, a work by Professor Elmer A. Driedger, from Osler, Saskatchewan, first published in 1974 by Butterworths, with a second edition appearing in 1983. The word “construction” here means interpretation, implying inquiry into both the meaning and of legal effect of a statute. But is Driedger’s book the one folks are actually looking for? Perhaps not.
In 1994 Butterworths published Driedger on the Construction of Statutes: Third Edition by Ruth Sullivan. According to Professor Sullivan’s Foreword, the third edition “bears little resemblance to the previous editions.” While the text maintains Driedger’s objective and many aspects of his approach, the book is, according to Sullivan, more comprehensive. “Whereas Drieger’s account was positivist and purported to constrain judges,” says Sullivan, “mine is more fluid and more reflective, I believe, of the real complexity of interpretation.” In the fourth edition (2002), Sullivan continues to expand the scope and content of the work, while further shifting the emphasis to reflect the pragmatic practices of contemporary Canadian courts. In the Fifth Edition (2008), Driedger’s approach to statutory construction remains a deep stratum, but the book’s content has been re-written to the extent that Professor Sullivan is now the sole author. LexisNexis is to launch a 6th edition in 2014.
So here is a situation where successive editions of a book have spawned a new work. When you ask your law library for a copy of “Driedger on the Construction of Statutes” – do you mean the 1st or 2nd edition of Driedger’s classic? Or the latest edition of Sullivan? Or perhaps one of the Driedger/Sullivan hybrids?
Canadian law libraries would do well to keep at least one copy of each edition of Driedger/Sullivan on statutory construction in their collections!