Law materials in Dar al-Hikmah Library consists mainly of acts and regulations or statutes, law reports, journals and other law-related publications, textbooks, works of general references, digests, indexes, legal encyclopedias and dictionaries, and other works having some bearing on law.
Legislation is that source of law which consists in the declaration of legal rules by a competent authority. In Malaysian context, legislation refers to laws declared by Federal Parliament, any State Legislative Assembly, or by any person or body legally authorized to make rules and regulations. It can be divided into two (2) categories:
I. Malaysian Statutory Law
II. English Statutory Law
Law Textbooks / Law Monographs
A common source of information in a law library is the textbooks, written essentially for students, persons in the academic profession, legal practitioners, and others interested in knowing the law on a particular subject. Some textbooks incorporate detailed treatment of a subject, while others are usually concerned with describing the basic rules and principles of law with an emphasis on the present state of the law.
Journals (also called periodicals) are published at regular intervals (ranging from weekly to annually), and are an important source of legal material. Legal periodicals contain articles, notes and comments on recent cases, information on recent legal development, book reviews and may also contain other information. There are Malaysian academic journals such as Malayan Law Journal (MLJ), IIUM Law Journal, Journal Syariah, IKIM Law Journal, Journal of Malaysian and Comparative Law, Malaysian Journal of Law & Society, UiTM Law Review, Current Law Journal (CLJ which is essentially a law report, but publishes articles occasionally).
Cases decided by courts and tribunals are an important source material in many types of legal research and writing. Besides the Malaysian law reports, a familiarity with the English law reports is therefore necessary for any researcher.
English Law Reports
Indexes to Periodicals: General
An index usually provides the name of the author(s), title and references to articles. In some cases, an index may also include an abstract (summary) of the article. Many legal journals publish their own index in annual volumes. However, these have limited use as they include only such articles as are published in a particular journal. Some of the collections are listed below:
I. Legal Journals Index
II. Index to Legal Periodicals & Books
III. Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
IV. Current Law
V. Current Law Index
VI. European Legal Journals Index
VII. Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law
VIII. Social Sciences Index
Digest of Cases: English Cases
A digest of cases is in the nature of an index to reported decisions. Each case is presented in the form of a summary, which is often a copy of the material that appears in the head note of the case. Some of the examples are:
I. The Digest
II. Current Law Monthly Digest
III. Current Law Yearbook
Digest of Cases: Malaysian Cases
I. Mallal’s Digest
II. Mallal’s Current Law
III. Digest of Recent Malaysian Judgement
IV. Malaysian Digest
A citator is a table of reported cases which have been considered, followed, distinguished or overruled during the period covered by a particular publication. Cases are alphabetically arranged by their names.
I. Current Law Case Citator
II. Mallal’s Digest Case Citator 1932-2015
A book or a set of books containing concise information on variety of subjects, usually arrange in alphabetical order. The purpose of legal encyclopedia is to provide information and comments on various aspects of law and current legal development.
I. Halsbury’s Laws of England
II. Halsbury’s Laws of Malaysia
III. Current Law
The law, like many other academic disciplines, has its own technical words and phrases which are either not used in ordinary language or they are used in a specific sense. To check the meaning of every law words, terms, phrases and maxims, legal dictionaries would be the first options.
For those who want to contact legal agencies can find a list of lawyers, advocates and solicitors and relevant authorities, using legal directories.
Yaqin, A. (2007). Legal research and writing. Malayan Law Journal.