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Legal dictionaries and encyclopedias

Halsbury's Law of Australia - Dictionary

Law Databases providing Legislation, Case Law , Legal Journals and Commentary


Lexis Advance Pacific

Includes the case citator CaseBase, the encyclopaedia Halsbury's Laws of Australia, as well as a range of law reports, unreported judgments, journals and commentary.

Westlaw AU

Provides online access to Australian law titles subscribed to by QUT Library. Includes legal research titles as well as loose leaf services, full text journals published by Thomson Reuters, law reports and unreported judgments.

CCH IntelliConnect

Includes a range of subject-specific law reports, journals, commentaries and newsletters.


Includes full-text legislation from all Australian jurisdictions as well as point-in-time legislation for a range of subjects.

Federal Register of Legislation

Includes authorised versions of Commonwealth principal Acts, amending Acts and delegated legislation


Includes an extensive collection of unreported judgments, legislation (including point-in-time NSW Acts), treaties, journals and law reform reports.

Find these and more on the Law Research databases page.

ILAC method for addressing legal problem questions

Issues - identify key legal issues

Law - find the authority, the legal rule

Application - of the above to this case

Conclusion - take a view, position


If the title of the law report or journal is abbreviated, you will need to find the full title before searching the Library Catalogue.

Useful legal abbreviation indexes include:

Australian courts use a system of Medium Neutral Citation to identify judgments. Each court has an 'identifier' or abbreviation that is used in these citations. The QUT Common Case Abbreviations lists all of the report series, the jurisdiction and whether or not they are the authorised report series.

Legal Encyclopaedias

If you are not sure where to start your research or don't know much about a topic, a legal encyclopaedia can provide a good starting point.

The two encyclopaedias below cover all areas of Australian law and are continuously updated.  They provide a good introduction to legal principles and provide valuable references to relevant cases and legislation.  Use both encyclopaedias, as coverage may differ and sections may be updated at different times.

Tip: Check the currency statement at the top of each paragraph - it may be necessary to find more up to date material if a section is out of date.

Halsbury's Laws of Australia

Depending on what you already know about your topic, you can choose to browse or search.


Use the Table of Contents to browse broad subject areas by selecting different volume titles:

E.g. 90 Constitutional Law

Use the plus (+) symbols to view more specific chapters and paragraphs.


From the Table of Contents page select Search at the top left-hand side of the page or if you are reading an entry select Search Source from the top right-hand side of the page.

Use the Search Terms box to search by topic:

E.g. Search Terms box > type acquisition of property > click Search > view results

Tip: If you're not sure how to enter your search terms, check the Search Tips at the top of the page.

Laws of Australia

Similar to Halsbury's, you can browse or search this encyclopaedia.


Select the broad subject area from the left side:

E.g. 9. Criminal law principles

Use the plus (+) symbols to view more specific chapters or click on the title of a paragraph to read it.


From the home page of the Encyclopaedia you can search using keywords or if you are reading an entry select New Search from the top of the page.

E.g. Free Text Search box > type "burden of proof" and civil > view results

Tip: Click on the blue Field Name for search tips specific to that field

Legal Dictionaries

Legal dictionaries can help you start your research by providing you with a concise definition of the law. They will also help improve your legal vocabulary. Dictionaries vary in their content - they may:

  • Be subject specific (E.g. business law)
  • Cover one jurisdiction (E.g. Australia)
  • Provide a full definition of a term, including its legal history
  • Simply list the legislative authority (I.e. leading you to legislation or case law where the term has been defined)

Australian Legal Dictionaries

Australian Legal Words and Phrases

This dictionary provides a comprehensive list of words and phrases that have been defined in legislation or judicially considered.

You can browse the Table of Contents for your term or select Search.

E.g. Defined Terms box > type partnership > view results

International Legal Dictionaries