30 Looseleaf Services (Commentaries)

Looseleaf services are publications used by legal practitioners who specialise in a particular area of law. They are also known as commentaries or reporters and typically include:

  • legislative extracts
  • annotations to legislation
  • recent case law
  • commentary (an analysis of the law written in a similar style to a textbook).
The term ‘looseleaf’ refers to the traditional print versions of these sources, which are comprised of loose leaves (pages) of paper in a folder or ring binder. This format enables regular updating throughout the year by removing, replacing and/or adding individual ‘leaves’ to reflect changes in the law. Consequently, they are organised and referenced by paragraph numbers rather than page numbers.

The benefits of looseleaf services include:

  • currency — regularly updated to reflect new developments
  • insight — contains expert analysis of legal concepts and legislative provisions
  • comprehensive coverage
    • assemble important information relevant to a field of law within the one product
    • include relevant legislation and key case law in full-text or extract format (or link to these primary sources).

Using looseleaf services

Check your university library for access to looseleaf services; many will be available online in key law databases. Online looseleaf services continue to be regularly updated so they are a good source to check for any changes to the law in a particular practice area. They are particularly useful for problem questions involving factual scenarios. For example, for explanations of the elements of criminal offences, an outline of the effects of specific contractual terms or discussion of the courts’ interpretation/application of complex sections of legislation.

To use online looseleaf services, browse the table of contents or index as a starting point, or search across these products using keywords. Watch the Westlaw Australia video on Find and annotate commentary publications [2:24] for an example of using these resources.


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Legal Research Skills: An Australian Law Guide: 2023 Edition Copyright © 2023 by The University of Queensland, James Cook University, the University of Southern Queensland, Charles Darwin University, Southern Cross University, Queensland University of Technology, and Deakin University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.