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Governmental entities that have been created and delegated with official responsibilities, such as a county highway authority. In legal research and citation, entities cited as sources of law, such as statutes, judicial decisions, and legal textbooks. Parties support their positions in a lawsuit by citing authorities in briefs, motions, and other documents submitted to the court.

Primary authorities are citations to statutes, court decisions, and government regulations that, if having the force of law, must be applied by the court to dispose of the issue in dispute if they are relevant to the matter. Secondary authorities are references to treatises, textbooks, or restatements that explain and review general principles of law that buttress a party's position in a lawsuit. Such authorities have no legal effect and can be disregarded by the court.

Authorities are also cited by scholars in legal treatises, hornbooks and restatements to establish the bases of the statements and conclusions contained in the works.


Primary Authority; Secondary Authority.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. 1) previous decisions by courts of appeal which provide legal guidance to a court on questions in a current lawsuit, which are called "precedents." Legal briefs (written arguments) are often called "points and authorities." Thus, a lawyer "cites" the previously-decided cases as "authorities" for his/her legal positions. 2) a common term for law enforcement, as in "I'm going to call the authorities" (i.e. police). (See: precedent, cite, brief)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

AUTHORITIES, practice. By this word is understood the citations which are made of laws, acts of the legislature, and decided cases, and opinions of elementary writers. In its more confined sense, this word means, cases decided upon solemn argument which are said to 'be authorities for similar judgments iii like cases. 1 Lilly's Reg. 219. These latter are sometimes called precedents. (q.v.) Merlin, Repertoire, mot Autorites.
     2. It has been remarked, that when we find an opinion in a text writer upon any particular point, we must consider it not merely as the opinion of the author, but as the supposed result of the authorities to which he refers; 3 Bos. & Pull. 361; but this is not always the case, and frequently the opinion is advanced with the reasons which support it, and it must stand or fall as these are or are not well founded. A distinction has been made between writers who have, and those who have not holden a judicial station; the former are considered authority, and the latter are not so considered unless their works have been judicially approved as such. Ram. on Judgments, 93. But this distinction appears not to be well founded; some writers who have occupied a judicial station do not possess the talents or the learning of others who have not been so elevated, and the works or writings of the latter are much more deserving the character of an authority than those of the former. See 3 T. R. 4, 241.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Larger banking organizations generally employ all of the various legal authorities available to them in making equity investments.
Most taxing authorities have privacy or confidentiality laws that should protect the sensitive nature of the taxpayer's information, including electronic records obtained during an audit.
(7.) In September 1997, in connection with the application of another Korean bank, the Board found that the Korean supervisory authorities were actively working to establish arrangements for the consolidated supervision of that bank.
monetary authorities sold $833 million against the yen.
We also recommend that a taxpayer choosing to forgo Appeals should not be required to waive its rights to a subsequent review by Appeals in the event the competent authorities fail to reach an agreement (or with respect to issues not considered by the Competent Authority).
'The basic idea behind establishment of two new authorities is to avoid dependence of other development authorities and metropolitan corporations for one of the gigantic tasks in housing projects acquisition of land.
For her part, the President of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Authority Raoudha Laabidi said that the biggest challenge facing independent authorities today is the financial and logistical support, commending the role of the civil society and international organisations in combating human trafficking.
This is undoubtedly the reason papal encyclicals and other documents by religious authorities are typically accompanied by extensive argument.
Investigators want to know why modern collision avoidance equipment installed on both planes did not prevent the accident, local aviation authorities said.
In the 1990s, during the negotiations for a new constitution, CONTRELESA lobbied for an important role of traditional authorities within the new South Africa.
It is clear that some Presidential authorities in this context are beyond Congress's ability to regulate."
"Other Presidents--most Presidents believe that during a time of war, that we can use our authorities under the Constitution to make decisions necessary to protect us."