WikiMedia – The New Secondary Legal Source
In the study of law, moreso in the interpretation thereof, we are always in thesearch of sources of laws so that society as a whole can live a regulated life.Source classification is important because the persuasiveness of a sourceusually depends upon its history.Primary sources are statements of the law from a governmental entity such asa Court, Legislature, Executive agency, President, or Governor and may include cases, constitutions, statutes, administrative regulations, and othersources of binding legal authority.Secondary sources offer an analysis, commentary or a restatement of primary law. Secondary sources are used to help locate and explain primary sources of law. These sources may influence a legal decision but they do not have thecontrolling or binding authority like the primary sources of law. Secondary legal sources may include books, articles, and encyclopedias.
Legal writers usually prefer to cite primary sources because only primary sources are authoritative and precedential, while secondary sources are only persuasive at best.
At this juncture, it is pertient to state that WikiMedia in its various forms,especially Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia has become a Secondary Sourceof Law the world over. Students, Professors, Paralegals, Lawyers, law Researchers and even Judges have started using it as any other encyclopaedia,despite its online character and the most dangerous aspect – its ability to beedited by one and all.
Bouchoux, Deborah E. (2000),
Cite Checker: A Hands-On Guide to Learning Citation Form
, Thomson DelmarLearning, p. 45,ISBN0766818934