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Law: Institutional Writers

Guide to finding and using information supporting learning and research in Law.

Institutional writers

Institutional writings are the works of writers who first brought together the principles of Scots law into legal texts during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. These works are considered a minor formal, or primary, source of Scots law.

Examples of institutional writings

Some of the most important works by institutional writers include:

  • Viscount Stair’s , The Institutions of the Law of Scotland
  • Lord Bankton’s  An Institute of the Laws of Scotland
  • Erskine’s An Institute of the Law of Scotland
  • Bell’s Commentaries and Bell’s Principles; and
  • Hume’s Commentaries on the Law of Scotland, Respecting the Description and Punishment of Crimes

Structure and citation - institutional writings

Institutional works are not all arranged in the same way. A work may be comprised of several “books” divided into “chapters” or “titles”; in turn, these may be subdivided into sections or paragraphs. Furthermore, a work may consist of several volumes – each volume may contain more than one “book”.

You may see citations to institutional works in abbreviated form indicating the writer, the work, the book, the title or chapter, and the paragraph or section.

Stair Institutions I, x, 3

Stair Institutions I, x, 3
Writer Work Book Title Paragraph

For guidance on how to reference in your own work, refer to our Referencing guide:

Finding institutional writings

You can find and access the works of institutional writers in the same way as other books.

Use SUPrimo to search for by author and title keywords.

Description of Institutional Writers

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