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Law: Legal Encyclopaedias

Guide to finding and using information supporting learning and research in Law.

Legal encyclopaedias

A legal encyclopaedia is a work which aims to give a comprehensive statement of the law. Some cover a specific area of law, while others are much broader in scope.

The main general legal encyclopaedias are Laws of Scotland: The Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia and Halsbury's Laws of England

Video: Finding law on a topic: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia & Westlaw 'Overviews'

The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia

The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia provides an updated statement of Scots law. It is a useful starting point for legal research on Scots Law.

The Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia comprises over one hundred and thirty ‘titles’ (general subjects) from ‘Administrative Law’ to ‘Wills and Succession’. Within each ‘title’ the subject is divided into more specific headings, sub-headings, and numbered paragraphs.

You can access it online and in the Library.

You can access the Stair Memorial Encylopaedia online on the Lexis®Library service, either directly:

or via the main Lexis®Library service. On the Lexis®Library homepage under ‘Find a Title...’ search for ‘stair memorial encyclopaedia’ in the ‘Find a source’ box. Select ‘Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia’ and then ‘OK – Continue’:

Searching and browsing

Once you have navigated to the Search screen, you can proceed to search or follow the link to ‘Browse’ the encyclopaedia:

  • Search: Searching across the entire work means that you will retrieve documents matching your search terms whichever title they appear under. Follow the document title link to view the full-text.
  • Browse: You can use the +/- (expand/contract) navigation to browse from ‘title’ to heading to sub-heading to numbered paragraph.

You may find it helpful to browse the work and select particular titles or headings to search under – this limits results to those particular topics.

Reading the text

Each numbered paragraph is comprised of the original text and update text. The updating text appears as separate ‘TEXT’ and ‘NOTE’ entries below the original text and footnotes. Updates are not incorporated into the main text – you must read the whole paragraph.

Printing, emailing and downloading

From within a single document (paragraph) you can select the print, email or download icons.

You may select more than one document by ticking boxes beside each document:

  • from a list of search results;
  • on a ‘Browse’ screen; or
  • in the browse frame to the left of a full-text document.

Select the print, email or download icons - in the new window ensure you select your desired ‘Document Range’.

**NB Our copy of the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia is no longer updated.**
**For up-to-date information refer to the online version on Lexis®Library**
In the Library

The Laws of Scotland: Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia is held in the law reference section on level 5 of the Library:


Structure
  • Original volumes. The Laws of Scotland was originally published in twenty-five volumes. Titles appeared alphabetically within these volumes.
  • Reissues. To reflect changes in the law a number of titles have been updated and reissued as individual booklets. These booklets are held in ‘Reissue’ binders and supersede the title in the original volume. Each volume and reissue booklet contains a table of contents and an index. You must always check whether a reissue exists and, if so, use that rather than the original text.
  • Cumulative Supplement / Noter-up. Reissues and original volumes are updated by the annual Cumulative Supplement and this is updated during each year by Noter-up in the Service Binder.
  • The Consolidated Index, Consolidated Table of Cases, and Consolidated Table of Statutes etc. are each issued annually and allow you to find where topics, cases, and legislative provisions are referred to in the encyclopaedia. References are to volume or reissue and paragraph number.

Using parts of the printed service

1. Look up: Consolidated Index or Consolidated Table of Cases or Consolidated Table of Statutes

2. Follow up reference in (or go directly to): Volume or Reissue

3. Check for updates in: Cumulative Supplement

4. Check for further updates in: Noter-up in Service Binder

Halsbury's Laws of England

Halsbury’s Laws of England is a comprehensive and updated encyclopaedia of English law. It is comprised of a number of ‘titles’ (or subjects).

Online

You can access the online version of Halsbury’s Laws of England via the Lexis®Library service.

You can do this directly:

Alternatively, on the Lexis®Library homepage under ‘Find a Title...’ search for ‘halsbury’s laws of england’ in the ‘Find a source’ box. Select ‘Halsbury's Laws of England' and then ‘OK – Continue’.

Searching and browsing

Once you have navigated to the Search screen, you can proceed to search or follow the link to ‘Browse’ the encyclopaedia:

  • Search: Searching across the entire work means that you will retrieve documents matching your search terms whichever title they appear under. Follow the document title link to view the full-text.
  • Browse: You can use the +/- (expand/contract) navigation to browse from ‘title’ to heading to sub-heading to numbered paragraph.

You may find it helpful to browse the work and select particular titles or headings to search under – this limits results to those particular topics.

Reading the text

Each numbered paragraph is comprised of the original text and update text. The updating text appears as a separate UPDATE entry below the original text and footnotes. These updates are not incorporated into the main text – you must read the whole paragraph.

Printing, emailing and downloading

From within a single document (paragraph) you can select the print, email or download icons.

You may select more than one document by ticking boxes beside each document:

  • from a list of search results;
  • on a ‘Browse’ screen; or
  • in the browse frame to the left of a full-text document.

Select the print, email or download icons - in the new window ensure you select your desired ‘Document Range’.

Other legal encyclopaedias

You can search for other legal encyclopaedias and reference texts using SUPrimo:

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