This is the first of a series of posts that were prepared as the sequel to a request by Professor Daniel Poulin to explain the character and purpose of “Halsburys” and the “C.E.D.” to his seminar on legal information at the University of Montreal. The first post is a generic description of the Halsburys Model and will be followed by posts on Halsburys Laws of Canada, the Canadian Encyclopedic Digests, and the Juris Classeur Quebec, three publications of the same ilk or genre that are designed to provide legal researchers with “a complete statement” of the laws of Canada, the Western Provinces, Ontario and Quebec.
THE “GREAT ENCYCLOPEDIAS” OF LEGAL RESEARCH
Common-law countries share a tradition of publishing the “great encyclopedias (of legal research) which became, and remain today, authoritative and indispensable works of reference wherever English law is practiced”. These include encyclopedias of (1) forms and precedents, and encyclopedias modelled on (2) Halsburys Laws of England and the (3) English and Empire Digest. More recently, the traditional list of encyclopedias has been expanded to include (4) case citations, (5) statute citations and (6) words and phrases.
The first use of the term “great encyclopedias” to describe these publications is found in “Butterworths: History of a Publishing House”, a book that Butterworths originally published in 1980 to celebrate its many innovations and accomplishments. Although a bit pretentious, the use of the word “great” is justified for a number of reasons, not merely because of their monumental scale and quality, but because the encyclopedias have become the pillars of legal research and legal practice wherever they exist. By creating and publishing the first editions of these encyclopedias more than a century ago, Butterworths effectively laid the foundation for legal research as we know it today.
Not by chance, these same encyclopedias are the foundation of the commercial business of the “major” legal publishers. In every case, these “must have” publications provide the cash flow, the reputation, the author base and the market connections that that make it possible for a legal publisher to develop and maintain a large scale publishing program of legal treatises and monographs.
THE HALSBURYS MODEL
As noted above, Halsburys Laws of England is one of several “models” for legal encyclopedias. The vision for a Halsburys encyclopedia is to provide an authoritative summary of the law by synthesizing and blending authoritative statements from multiple sources of the law into a single prose narrative. Halsburys attempts to cover every legal subject. Hence its value. No legal practitioner can even hope to have familiarity with all aspects of the law but the client has an expectation that his or her lawyer will be able to give legal advice every type of legal problem. Having ready access to Halsburys enables a lawyer to have an overview, and some of the vocabulary, of almost any subject prior to meeting with a client, as well as the means of initiating a more serious study of the issues after the client has left.
A Halsburys encyclopedia has a number of standard features that can be found in every encyclopedia that takes Halsburys Laws of England as its source of inspiration.
Black letter statement of the law – A Halsburys encyclopedia is a black letter statement of the law. By this is meant a prose narrative derived from statutes and cases that expressly excludes any author commentary on the nature or quality of the law as stated in a statute or case, or any speculation as to the direction in which the law should evolve. The approach taken is that “this is the law as it is now, beginning and end of story”.
Authoritative – A Halsburys encyclopedia has high standards, with authors of major treatises and monographs selected to contribute Titles on the principal legal subjects, and with up-and-coming young lawyers and professional legal researchers and writers contributing Titles on the remaining subjects. Prior to publication, these Titles are thoroughly vetted and edited by the publishers professional editorial staff to ensure accuracy.
Comprehensive – A Halsburys encyclopedia covers the complete range of legal subjects, including subjects so narrow that they would not ordinarily be the subject of a legal treatise or monograph.
Organization – A Halsburys encyclopedia is laid out in alphabetical order by “Title”, the name given to each legal subject. A “Volume” may include one or more “Titles”.
Access – A Halsburys encyclopedia is designed to give easy access to its content. For something this large in scale, carefully constructed access points are essential. Headings and sub-headings are frequent. Paragraphs are numbered. Paragraph notes rather than footnotes are employed and placed throughout the text immediately following the paragraph setting out a point of law. Key word indexes exist both to volumes and to the collection of volumes.
Currency – Titles are kept current by annual supplementation that highlights key changes to principles of law. A Halsburys Title is not intended to be a digest of all reported case law, but rather a narrative statement of legal principles with citations that support the principles. Clutter is kept to a minimum. The text changes only when legal principles change.
Format – A Halsburys encyclopedia is generally published in hard bound volumes, but there have been exceptions such as Halsburys Laws of Australia and both Canadian Encyclopedic Digests which are published in loose-leaf. The traditional bound volume format is generally preferred because of concerns about the reliability and cost of looseleaf publications. The Halsburys Model is also ideal for inclusion in an online service, providing a needed framework and context for efficiently accessing the full text of cases and statutes.
Branding – In the case of Butterworths companies, the name “Halsburys” forms part of the title. Halsburys is a brand, plain and simple, that is used to produce instant recognition as to the nature of the publication as well as provide an assurance of quality and reliability. It is used in the U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Non-Butterworths companies applying the same product concept have had to look elsewhere for inspiration for the names for their Halburys clones – hence the “Canadian Encyclopedic Digest“, the “Laws of Australia“, and the “Corpus Juris Secundum“.
Status – For decades, owning a Halsburys or a C.E.D. was seen as proof that a lawyer had made it. It was thought that to be able to afford it, the lawyer had to have established a successful law practice. A Halsburys encyclopedia is physically designed to impress both the client and the lawyer. The paper quality and binding match the quality of the content. Ribbons are used to mark your place in the text. Viewing a complete set on a library shelf is an awesome experience. In many offices, Halsburys encyclopedias are displayed in locations of high visibility for the express purpose of impressing clients.
THE HALSBURYS MODEL IN CANADA
In Canada, there are three publications that follow the Halsburys model – (1) the Canadian Encyclopedia Digest (Western Edition), and (2) the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (Ontario Edition), both published by Carswell, and (3) Halsburys Laws of Canada published by LexisNexis Butterworths. Legal practitioners in France and Quebec have access to similar encyclopedias – Juris Classeur and Juris Classeur Quebec – that serve the same purpose for the legal practitioner. Needless to say, these encyclopedias are “distinct” or “similar but different”. This series of posts will examine each publication in turn in order to provide the user with a clear understanding of the comparative strengths of each of them, something that has been missing from the legal research literature to date.
Next post in series: Halsburys Laws of Canada – One of the Great Encyclopedias of Canadian Legal Research.
N.B. Gary P. Rodrigues was Vice President Publishing at Lexis Nexis Butterworths during the period that Halsburys Laws of Canada and Juris Classeur Quebec were developed and launched. He was Managing Editor and then Executive Editor at Carswell during the period that the Third Editions of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (Ontario and Western Editions) were published.