Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law

A comprehensive Indexing System

The system allows the reader to locate cases with the same or similar legal issues in any jurisdiction in the world.

The Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law is a massive outline or index of law. It helps researchers find legal information, for example case law that deal with specific legal concepts.

The Encyclopedia provides a unique way of categorizing and classifying legal information. It organizes the entries by assigning them to particular lavels and sub-lavels that break down the legal information into manageable subjects. Like Lexis, the Encyclopedia has not assigned numbers to any topics or sub-topics in its legal taxonomy. It was designed to be more intuitive, using a term-based structure rather than a numbered hierarchy.

This Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law easily facilitates the discovery of entries, cases, law books, journal articles and other secondary sources because it employs a universal system of labels for all jurisdictions.

Each lavel has an associated lavel outline of issues and sub-issues.

Most of the Jurisdictions have the same arrangement, so that if the user learns to use, say, the American legal encyclopedia, then the user will be able to use the Asian legal encyclopedia. A lavel that is good in one
encyclopedia should work in any other. It provides a uniform indexing scheme for information from all jurisdictions.

Search the Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law

The Encyclopedia provides quick entree to its classification system through a search engine, which allows the researcher to search for relevant levels. the user can simultaneously search all the jurisdictions, or select as many jurisdictions or specialized state or country legal topics as he or she want.

Browse the Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law

Alternatively, the user may browse the alphabetical outline of over 200 broader topics and expand each one down to its lowest level of topic or lavel. At any point, you can click on an information button next to a legal topic to retrieve a summary of the content that is covered.

Search Using a Specific Lavel

If the researcher already know the name of a level or topic relevant to his or her research, he can enter it quickly in a search box.

How the Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law Works

1. All of law is broken down into broad topics or labels.
2. Each of those broad topics or labels is divided into narrower topics, which are then divided into even narrower topics or labels, like steps in an outline. In the Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law there can be up to eight steps in the hierarchy to reach the narrowest topic, which represents a specific legal concept.
3. Each of these legal concepts (and there are many) has a unique identifier or URI that allows you to find it on the outline.

The great thing about the Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law is that all the entries use the same topics or labels. This means that, if you look up “Family Law” in two jurisdictions, all the entries (about cases, for example) you find will contain the specific legal concept represented by , even though the cases come from two different jurisdictions.

Scope of a Lavel

There are scope notes. The notes about “Subjects Included” and “Subjects Excluded and Covered by Other Topics” are
worth reviewing.


Broad Categories

The 200 levels of the general Outline are grouped under seven general categories: 1. Persons, 2. Property, 3. Contracts, 4. Torts, 5. Crimes, 6. Remedies, or 7. Government.

For instance, category 1, represents all matters relating to persons, including everything incident to or connected with the existence and protection by the law of all persons, natural or artificial, and of every distinct class of persons, their relations, rights, and obligations of a personal nature, combinations of persons in partnerships, associations, and companies, and the various classes of occupations.

Some examples of Category 1 matters:
Convicts, Husband and Wife, Partnerships, Infants, Brokers

And category 2 includes not only the subjects of rights of property, but also the various estates therein, and rights and obligations in respect thereof, and whatever is primarily incident to or connected with property, as conveyances and other modes of acquiring and transferring it.

Some examples of Category 2 matters:
Deeds, Easements, Mortgages, Trusts

Finding the Right Topic

There are several methods to find the right topic. For example, you may peruse the topics, reading the scope notes at the head of each topic. To find the right topic or label, in the website, an outline of the Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Law (the Classification System page, which lists all the labels) will be displayed. Browse the list of labels to find the label related to your issue. Click the label to go to this label page, which contains the labels under that label.

Summaries are concise statements of each point of law raised in the case. Sometimes there are also Abstracts or Synopsis.

Hyperlinking from Found Cases

When you already have one case on your topic (better if it is a known, relevant or good case) but you need more, use the summary about the case you already have to find other relevant cases. Then follow the labels assigned to this summary. This means that you have find a case on point early in your legal research, so you can use the labels of the Classification System of the Encyclopedia of Lawin this case to search for other cases discussing the same legal issues. Because, after the text of each summary, you will see the phrase “More Like This Summary.” Clicking that hyperlink will take you to a search screen that allows you to identify a jurisdiction or combination of jurisdictions, as well as specify a date or date range, to narrow the pool of results. The Encyclopedia will then return a list of cases, each of which contain those same headnotes in Digest view (i.e., abbreviated).

Retrieving Case Summaries

When you are viewing a summary in a case, click the label in the classification hierarchy next to the summary. A list of summaries classified under that label or topic — from cases in the same jurisdiction as the
case you were viewing— is displayed.

Alternatively, at a level page, you can select levels and then retrieve case summaries classified under those
labels. Change the jurisdiction at the top of the page if necessary to retrieve summaries from another jurisdiction. There is a Jurisdiction selector from which to make your selection.

Find a Topic Box

This feature runs the search against Labels, Scope Notes and background search terms. After selecting a topic from the results, the user then selects a jurisdiction or a source, and then he or she searches. The jurisdictional choices available are determined by the nature of the area of law. For example, copyright law in the United States can be available to the federal level. Tort law has a state and federal component.


Facets include Industry (accounting, agriculture, etc.),Jurisdiction and Region (Africa, America, Asia, etc.).


Topic searching is not always the easiest or most effective way to find cases. Some legal research experts believe that finding cases through secondary sources, like treaties, legal journals and legal encyclopedias, as a first step is the best case-finding method.


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