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LRAW Research Spring 2023

Restatements of the Law

Restatement of the Law of Torts 2d volume.Restatements of the Law summarize basic common law doctrines; they cover select subject areas, including:  

  • Agency
  • Conflict of Laws
  • Contracts
  • Employment Law
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Trusts

Restatements break rules down into their different components, and often provide commentary on the proper interpretation of the rules.  Each section of a Restatement is organized similarly.

  1. A section begins with a "black letter" statement of the law.
  2. Typically, a comment section will follow. Comments may include illustrations, meaning hypothetical examples that demonstrate how the black letter rule would be applied in certain fact scenarios.
  3. Typically, there is also a case citator section which provides summaries of cases in which courts have cited that section of the Restatement.  

Drafted by well-known scholars and jurists and adopted by the American Law Institute, Restatements tend to be more persuasive than other secondary sources.  In fact, sometimes courts adopt rules from Restatements. For example, in Henson v. International Paper Company, 374 S.C. 375, 650 S.E.2d 74 (2007), the South Carolina Supreme Court adopted the Restatement (Second) of Torts view of the attractive nuisance doctrine:

screenshot of Henson case on Westlaw, highlighting the portion where the court quotes black letter law from the Restatement, then states "we adopt Restatement (Second) § 339 and hold that future premises liability cases brought by or on behalf of child trespassers should be decided in accordance with the principles outlined in that section."

Citing Restatements

Rules B12.1.3 and 12.9.4 and Table 6 in The Bluebook cover how to cite restatements.  Citations to restatements include the following:

  1. Name of the restatement;
  2. Section of the restatement that contains the material you are citing; 
  3. Institutional source; and
  4. Date.

For example, you would cite the section of the Restatement (Second) of Torts that addresses the attractive nuisance doctrine as:

Restatement (Second) of Torts § 339 (Am. Law Inst. 1965).

Finding Restatements Using Westlaw

To find a Restatement efficiently in Westlaw, start typing the title in the search bar on the homepage, but do not press Enter or click the search button. Simply type in the search bar until the Suggestions in the dropdown below the search bar include a Content Page for the Restatement you seek. Then, click on title of the restatement in the dropdown menu.

typing "restatement of tor" and Westlaw suggests Content Pages including "Restatement of the Law - Torts" which is highlighted.

Notice that Westlaw includes current and previous versions of the Restatements. It is crucial to consider which version is relevant to your research, because there are significant differences between versions.

list of Restatement (Third) of Torts and various subtopics; Restatement (Second) of Torts; and Restatement (First) of Torts

You can click the checkbox next to a Restatement to keyword search only the Restatement you checked.

screenshot with checkmark next to one Restatement, and "Search specified content within..." highlighted in the search bar

Or you can click the plus sign to browse the topics covered within that Restatement.

highlighting plus signs next to Restatement (Second of Torts), Division Two. NegligenceChapter 13. Liability for Condition and Use of Land Topic 1. Liability of Possessors of Land to Persons on the Land Title B. Liability of Possessors of Land to Trespassers

Click on a section to read the blackletter law of that section of the Restatement, the comments, and the related case citations.

screenshot of section 339 of the 2nd Restatement, with overlays: "This section of the Restatement is 147 pages, including black letter law, comments, and case citations." "Only the first portion in bold type, in a frame, is the black letter law of this section of the Restatement."

Finding Restatements Using Lexis

To search a Restatement in Lexis, select Secondary Materials from the Content tab of the Explore section of the homepage.

Lexis+ homepage --> Content --> Secondary Materials

Then select Restatements.

Content Type > Restatements

Next, choose the Restatement topic you want to search.

Restatements of the Law > Torts

You can keyword search all Restatements on the topic you have chosen. Notice that Lexis includes current and previous versions of the Restatements, some of which are drafts, and some of which are official text.

search bar with Torts on the right near the magnifying glass search icon; "Drafts" and "Official Text" highlighted after different Restatement of the Law, Torts 3d entries

If you click on Restatement of the Law, Torts 2d - Official Text, for example, you can browse the table of contents. Click the plus signs to open each level of the outline until you find a relevant section

Negligence > Liability for Condition and Use of Land > Liability of Possessors of Land to Persons on the Land > Title B- Liability of Possessors of Land to Trespassers

The section contains the blackletter law, comments, and case citations.

screenshot from Lexis highlighting the black letter law of § 339, above the Caveat, Comments, and Illustrations. Callout: "Only the first portion in bold type is the black letter law of this section of the Restatement."