Educated at West House School and King Edward's, Birmingham, he read Philosophy and English Literature at the University of Durham and Law at the University of Edinburgh. He was appointed to the Lord President Reid Chair in Law at Edinburgh University in 1994. He has published widely on commercial law, property law, trusts, insolvency law, comparative law and legal history; he is a Solicitor, a Notary Public and a Writer to the Signet.
He is the author of several textbooks on conveyancing (co-written with former Scottish Law Commissioner, Professor Kenneth Reid); the law of inhibitions and adjudications (the diligences, or mechanisms for enforcing judgments, affecting land in Scotland); and searches.
At the Scottish Law Commission, Professor Gretton was the lead commissioner for the project considering reform to the Scottish system of land registration. This project proved most successful, resulting in a comprehensive report published in 2010. The report was received favorably by the Scottish Parliament, and the majority of its recommendations were enacted into the Land Registration etc. (Scotland) Act 2012, which has been passed by the Scottish Parliament and is expected to come into force some time in 2014. This new Act will repeal much of the previous law under the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979, which the Report highlighted as inadequate.
- Report on Land Registration (Scot Law Com No. 222, 2010)
- K G C Reid, The Law of Property in Scotland (1996), Preface
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