A primary authority is a term used in legal research to refer to statements of law that are binding upon the courts, government, and individuals. Primary authority is usually in the form of a document that establishes the law, and if no document exists, is a legal opinion of a court. The search for applicable primary authority is the most important part of the process of legal research.
A document is a written, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought. The word originates from the Latin documentum, which denotes a "teaching" or "lesson": the verb doceō denotes "to teach". In the past, the word was usually used to denote a written proof useful as evidence of a truth or fact. In the computer age, "document" usually denotes a primarily textual computer file, including its structure and format, e.g. fonts, colors, and images. Contemporarily, "document" is not defined by its transmission medium, e.g., paper, given the existence of electronic documents. "Documentation" is distinct because it has more denotations than "document". Documents are also distinguished from "realia", which are three-dimensional objects that would otherwise satisfy the definition of "document" because they memorialize or represent thought; documents are considered more as 2 dimensional representations. While documents are able to have large varieties of customization, all documents are able to be shared freely, and have the right to do so, creativity can be represented by documents, also. History, events, examples, opinion, etc. all can be expressed in documents.
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the science of justice" and "the art of justice". Law regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
Legal research is "the process of identifying and retrieving information necessary to support legal decision-making. In its broadest sense, legal research includes each step of a course of action that begins with an analysis of the facts of a problem and concludes with the application and communication of the results of the investigation."
Examples of primary authority include the verbatim texts of:
The term basic law is used in some places as an alternative to "constitution", implying it is a temporary but necessary measure without formal enactment of constitution. A basic law is either a codified constitution, or in countries with uncodified constitutions, a law given to have constitution powers and effect. The name is usually used to imply an interim or transitory nature, or avoid attempting a claim to being "the highest law", often for religious reasons. In West Germany the term "Basic Law" (Grundgesetz) was used to indicate that the Basic Law was provisional until the ultimate reunification of Germany. But in 1990 no new constitution was adopted and instead the Basic Law was adopted throughout the entire German territory. Basic law is entrenched in that it overrides ordinary 'statute law' passed by the legislature.
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by legislative bodies; they are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies.
International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide states across a broad range of domains, including war, diplomacy, trade, and human rights. International law thus provides a means for states to practice more stable, consistent, and organized international relations.
Verbatim re-prints by private commercial law publishing companies are also considered primary authority, as long as the document purports to be and actually is a verbatim re-print of the applicable document, statute, regulation, court opinion, etc. Many lawyers, legal scholars, government agencies and others use verbatim re-prints of texts published by private publishing companies.
The term 'primary authority' is used to distinguish primary authority materials from texts considered to be secondary authority.
In law, a secondary authority is an authority purporting to explain the meaning or applicability of the actual verbatim texts of primary authorities.
Primary Authority can also refer to the scheme, created by the British Government, for Local Authority Regulators to provide businesses with tailored advice on regulatory matters. The formal relationship where a business or organisation works together with a Regulator under the scheme is referred to as a Primary Authority Partnership.
In the United Kingdom, Trading Standards are the local authority departments, formerly known as Weights and Measures, that enforce consumer protection legislation.
In common law legal systems, precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case that is either binding on or persuasive for a court or other tribunal when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts. Common-law legal systems place great value on deciding cases according to consistent principled rules, so that similar facts will yield similar and predictable outcomes, and observance of precedent is the mechanism by which that goal is attained. The principle by which judges are bound to precedents is known as stare decisis. Common-law precedent is a third kind of law, on equal footing with statutory law and subordinate legislation - that is, delegated legislation or regulatory law.
The Code of Laws of the United States of America is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States. It contains 53 titles. The main edition is published every six years by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the House of Representatives, and cumulative supplements are published annually. The official version of those laws not codified in the United States Code can be found in United States Statutes at Large.
A directive is a legal act of the European Union which requires member states to achieve a particular result without dictating the means of achieving that result. It can be distinguished from regulations, which are self-executing and do not require any implementing measures. Directives normally leave member states with a certain amount of leeway as to the exact rules to be adopted. Directives can be adopted by means of a variety of legislative procedures depending on their subject matter.
The primary and fundamental statement of laws in the Russian Federation is the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Ratio decidendi is a Latin phrase meaning "the reason" or "the rationale for the decision". The ratio decidendi is "the point in a case that determines the judgement" or "the principle that the case establishes".
In law, a legal opinion is in certain jurisdictions a written explanation by a judge or group of judges that accompanies an order or ruling in a case, laying out the rationale and legal principles for the ruling.
The law of California consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law. The California Codes form the general statutory law.
The law of Florida consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law and local law. The Florida Statutes form the general statutory law of Florida.
Legal research is the process of identifying and retrieving information to support legal arguments and decisions. Finding relevant legal information can be challenging and may involve the use of electronic research tools as well as printed books and materials. However, many resources that are useful for legal research are fee-based, and many are not easily accessible.
Computer-assisted legal research (CALR) or computer-based legal research is a mode of legal research that uses databases of court opinions, statutes, court documents, and secondary material. Electronic databases make large bodies of case law easily available. Databases also have additional benefits, such as Boolean searches, evaluating case authority, organizing cases by topic, and providing links to cited material. Databases are available through paid subscription or for free.
The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, the supreme of which is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States. The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal law, which consists of Acts of Congress, treaties ratified by the Senate, regulations promulgated by the executive branch, and case law originating from the federal judiciary. The United States Code is the official compilation and codification of general and permanent federal statutory law.
Edict of government is a technical term associated with the United States Copyright Office's guidelines and practices that comprehensively includes laws, which advises that such submissions will not be accepted nor processed for copyright registration. It is based on the principle of public policy that citizens must have unrestrained access to the laws that govern them. Similar provisions occur in most, but not all, systems of copyright law; the main exceptions are in those copyright laws which have developed from English law, under which the copyright in laws rests with the Crown or the government.
The politics of France take place with the framework of a semi-presidential system determined by the French Constitution of the French Fifth Republic. The nation declares itself to be an "indivisible, secular, democratic, and social Republic". The constitution provides for a separation of powers and proclaims France's "attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789."
The law of New York consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, regulatory and case law, and also includes local laws, ordinances, and regulations. The Consolidated Laws form the general statutory law.
The law of Texas is derived from the Constitution of Texas and consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law and local laws and regulations.
The law of Illinois consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law and local law. The Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) form the general statutory law.
The law of Pennsylvania consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, regulatory and case law. The Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes form the general statutory law.
The law of North Carolina consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, regulatory, case law, and local law.
In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislation, are two forms of law, created respectively by the legislative and executive branches of government. Primary legislation generally consists of statutes, also known as 'acts', that set out broad outlines and principles, but delegate specific authority to an executive branch to make more specific laws under the aegis of the principal act. The executive branch can then issue secondary legislation, creating legally enforceable regulations and the procedures for implementing them.
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