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University of Newcastle Library Guides

Law: Legislation: How to find legislation commentary

A Library Guide to support students of the University of Newcastle in finding Legislation.

Legislation commentary resources

Secondary sources of law describe, summarise, explain, analyse or critique the law and are collectively referred to as legal commentary. They can assist in locating and understanding the relevant primary sources of law (case law and legislation) by often providing references to leading cases and key legislation on specific legal topics. Commentary on legislation will assist with interpreting and applying sections of Acts often providing a practical focus.

  • Examples: textbooks, case citators, statute annotators, legal dictionaries & encyclopaedias, journal articles and newspaper articles. 

What is a statutes annotator?

  • A statutes annotator not only contains the text of the relevant statute but may also include the history of a provision, commentary explaining the operation of the statutory provision and references to relevant case law and journal articles.

Key Australian resources

Key international resources

It is important to check for judicial consideration as whilst  Parliament makes the law the role of the courts is to interpret the law. Courts are responsible for resolving disputes over the meanings of words in legislation. Checking for judicial consideration involves searching for cases in which a section of and Act has been referred to, considered or discussed. 

  • Always check more than one source to ensure your research is comprehensive and thorough.

Key Australian resources

Key international resources

Journal articles are useful for legal research as they generally provide information more current than that found in a book. They are usually concise and to the point providing detailed analysis of specific sections of legislation.

To find journal articles search legal databases as well as Library Search. When you find a reference, copy the journal name, e.g. Torts Law Review, into the Library Search box to see if the journal is held online or in print.

Key Australian resources

Key international resources

Media resources are useful for legal research as proposed changes to legislation and court cases are often attract media attention before they appear in law related databases.

Key Australian resources

Key international resources

Finding legal definitions is a key part of legal research because:

  • It is important to distinguish between words defined in statutes and those defined in common law.
  • If there is no statutory definition of a word or phrase you will need to check to see if it has received judicial consideration.
  • Identify cases that have provided interpretations of undefined words or phrases in legislation.

Key Australian resources

Key international resources

Key law eBook collections