Restatements of the Law
Individual Restatement volumes are essentially compilations of
The ALI's aim is to distill the "
black letter law" from cases, to indicate a trend in common law, and, occasionally, to recommend what a rule of law should be. In essence, they restate existing common law into a series of principles or rules.
Each Restatement section includes a black letter principle, comments and illustrations, and, in the form of reporters' notes, a detailed discussion of all the cases that went into the principle summarized in that one section. By citing a Restatement section in a legal brief, a lawyer may bring to the attention of a judge a carefully studied summary of court action on almost any common law legal doctrine. The judge can then consider the Restatement section and make an informed decision as to how to apply it in the case at hand. While courts are under no formal obligation to adopt Restatement sections as the law, they often do because such sections accurately restate the already-established law in that jurisdiction, or on issues of first impression, and are persuasive in terms of demonstrating the current trend that other jurisdictions are following.
Restatements are rare in common law jurisdictions outside of the United States. Former
The Restatement of the Law is one of the most respected and well-used sources of secondary authority, covering nearly every area of common law. While considered
When, finally, it goes out under the name and with the sanction of the Institute, after all this testing and retesting, it will be something less than a code and something more than a treatise. It will be invested with unique authority, not to command, but to persuade. It will embody a composite thought and speak a composite voice. Universities and bench and bar will have had a part in its creation. I have great faith in the power of such a restatement to unify our law.— The Growth of the Law (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1924), 9.