Finding the law

Contributed by StephenShaw and current to 27 July 2018

A self-represented litigant needs to be able to find out what the law really is in any given circumstances. This will mean studying Statutes, previous decisions, and textbooks. People who are not involved in a dispute may also want to find out what the law is for any number of reasons. Fortunately, it has recently become much easier for people from outside of the legal profession to access the law.

Law used to be found only on paper, and if you wanted to look something up you had to visit a law library. Law schools and the Supreme Court have extensive library collections and allow the public to access them but not to take books out. A person without legal training who arrives at a law library wanting to find something specific about the law will find themselves faced with thousands of books and no real idea of how to go about finding exactly what they want. Fortunately law librarians are usually exceptionally helpful and patient people. Now, however, because of the internet, finding the law has become much easier.

The internet has links to millions of law-related pages. All Australian statutes and their corresponding regulations are available on the internet. Decisions from a wide variety of courts are online. There are also general law sites that carry a wide range of information, and law journals with special interest topics.

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