Skip to main content

Researching Secondary Law Sources

On the Legal Encyclopaedias page...

Halsbury's Laws of Australia

The Laws of Australia

Legal Encyclopaedias

Legal encyclopaedias are another source of information that should be consulted in your research. Rather than giving an in-depth analysis of an issue, as in a journal article, legal encyclopaedias give you an overview of what the law is in a particular area or jurisdiction, including relevant cases and legislation.

There are two Australian legal encyclopaedias: Halsbury's Laws of Australia and The Laws of Australia. You should look at both products because:

  • they are written by different authors who may have different approaches to a topic
  • one encyclopedia may cover a topic more thoroughly than the other
  • they may be updated at different times, making one more up to date.

As with any other encyclopaedia or textbook, legal encyclopaedias can become out of date, so always check to see when the text was last updated to ensure your information is current.

It is our experience that legal encyclopedias can provide key facts that may not be found in either textbooks or journal articles. Legal encyclopaedias are an excellent source of information too often dismissed as "optional extras". The worth of legal encyclopaedias in research should never be underestimated.

Halsbury's Laws of Australia [Lexis Advance] is a legal encyclopaedia providing a comprehensive overview of Australian law with 89 titles covering both mainstream and little known subject areas. 

The Laws of Australia [Westlaw AU] is a complete library of legal principles covering over 320 topics and every Australian jurisdiction.  Licensing and Resource Information.

AGLC4 Part III: Secondary Sources - 7.7 Legal Encyclopedias

Rule 6.3 Legal Encyclopedias: printed


LexisNexis, Halsbury's Laws of Australia, vol 4 (at 11 February 2019) 75 Charities, '1 Charitable Purposes' [75-1] .
  Lawbook, The Laws of Australia, vol 14 (at 11 February 2019) 14 Environment and Natural Resources, '14.10 Forests' [14.10.160] .


Publisher Title of Encyclopedia volume number at full date Title Number and Name of Title Chapter Number and Name Paragraph Full stop


6.3 7.7   7.7 7.7 6.3 1.1.4


Rule 7.7 Legal Encyclopedias: online


LexisNexis, Halsbury's Laws of Australia, (online at 1 February 2019) 90 Constitutional Law, '6 Limitations on Legislative Powers' [90-2226] .
  Lawbook, The Laws of Australia, (online at 1 February 2019) 2 Administrative Law, '2.3 Access to Information' [2.3.10] .


Publisher Title of Encyclopedia Date of Retrieval Title Number and Name of Title Chapter Number and Name Paragraph Full stop


6.3 7.7   7.7 7.7 6.3 1.1.4

Melbourne University Law Review Association, Australian Guide to Legal Citation (Melbourne University Law Review Association, 4th ed, 2018) 119.