Secondary sources

3. Legal dictionaries and encyclopaedias

Legal encyclopaedias and dictionaries can provide you with the context and background understanding of your research topic.

Legal dictionaries

Legal dictionaries can help you to:

  • identify terms relevant to a particular area of law
  • understand specific meanings for everyday words
  • locate words and phrases defined in legislation or judicially interpreted.

You can access many legal dictionaries online via the Get Started tab of the Legal Research guide and other guides.

Legal encyclopaedias

Legal encyclopaedias are more extensive than dictionaries and will provide:

  • a good introduction to the topic
  • key case and legislation references
  • details across all Australian jurisdictions.

There are two main legal encyclopaedias in Australia: Halsbury's Laws of Australia and The Laws of Australia. You can access them online via the Get Started tab of the Legal Research Guide.

 Watch how to browse Halsbury's Laws of Australia to learn about using legal encyclopaedias.

Look up the definition of refugee in the Encyclopaedic Australian Legal Dictionary. Look at the entry to find the Act that grants refugee status in Australia?
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