I am delighted to be invited to contribute a foreword to Exploring Private Law, which celebrates the breadth of Michael Bryan's scholarly interests and the influence of his work on former students, academic colleagues and members of the judiciary.
The purpose of a foreword is often to provide an overview of the material which follows. In this case, however, the excellent introduction by Elise Bant and Matthew Harding describes the intellectual terrain covered by the book, considers the topics examined by the 24 contributors and identifies the intersecting issues explored in the various essays. In these circumstances it would add little to describe the scope of the work or discuss the contents of particular essays. Instead, I will briefly mention three broad conceptual questions which underpin the book, and make it such an original and interesting contribution to legal scholarship.
Until recently, most legal texts examined subject areas defined by reference to recognized common law categories (for example criminal law, contract, property and torts) or (less frequently) by reference to an area of statute law (for example trade practices law). Legal and equitable remedies were often discussed separately from substantive legal principles.