Here is the first in a series of how to use the most common legal resources. This week we are looking at Halsbury’s Laws.
Halsburys Laws is a legal encyclopaedia which tells you the exact state of English law on a very wide range of subjects. You should use it when you are just beginning your legal research and you want to know what the law says on a particular topic.
First, think of key words relevant to your research.
Then look up your keywords in the 3 volume index at the end of the work.
You’ll find two numbers, a bold one (followed by either 4th or 5th) and a light one. The bold number refers you to a volume number of the main work; either the 4th edition brown volumes, or the fifth edition black ones. The light number refers you to the paragraph number within the volume.
When you look up your paragraph, you should find it contains a summary of the law for the point you’re researching. Don’t forget to check the footnotes, which will refer you to legislation or case law which will make a useful starting point for further research.
Finally, you need to check for updates. Look up your volume and paragraph numbers in the two volume cumulative supplement to see if there have been any changes to the law up to the beginning of the current year. Finally do the same check in the noter up to ensure that the law is up to date to the last few weeks.
Next week: how to use the online version of Halsbury’s Laws.