Case law research involves:
Below are links to the legal resources such as digests and citators, legal databases and library helpsheets to help you with your case law research.
(This video was developed by the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC), State Library of NSW, with funding from the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW.)
There are a number of ways to locate relevant case law.
Below is a video below about how to find a case and our recommended databases for case law research.
(Created by the Queensland University of Technology Library, 2015)
For a full list of see Law Reports Online. This resource lists law report series, where they are located and dates available.
A case citation is a way of describing a case. For example, the citation Rogers v Whitaker (1992) 175 CLR 479 has the following elements:.
To find this case there are two steps:
The first step is to find where the case has been published. Using the example above Rogers v Whitaker (1992) 175 CLR 479, you will look up the abbreviation CLR.
You may find abbreviations in the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations or in another guide:
Once you have located the title of the law report series (e.g. Commonwealth Law Reports) the second step is to locate the Law Reports Series in the University of Tasmania Library Catalogue:
You can find authoritative cases by topic by searching databases and digests in print and online.
Databases allow you to search using key words or phrases. You can select search terms from your assignment, or from secondary sources such as legal dictionaries and encyclopedias, and enter these into the databases linked above. You can see more on creating effective search phrases, also known as Boolean searches, in the Getting Started tab.
Digests provide a topic based approach to locating relevant cases. Digests summarise the main points of the case to help the researcher decide on the relevance of the case to the issues.
Below are some digests available to University of Tasmania students.
Citators are tools that allow you to search for information about cases. It is a tool which allows you to track the history of a case and the treatment of a case by subsequent courts. A case citator, using a system of symbols and annotations, can provide you with the case status and information about subsequent judicial consideration. Citators allow you to determine if your case is still good law and it acts as a research tool to find other cases (and other materials) that refer to your case.
If you have a case name, citators are also an efficient way of:
Below are some citators available to University of Tasmania students.
Below are links to help sheets produced by the University of Tasmania Law Library.
List of Authorised Reports
List of Law Reports Online. This resource list law report series, where they are located and dates available.
All Australian jurisdictions have a set of official or 'that have been given official approval by the judiciary (Council of Law Reporting). These are referred to as 'authorised' law reports. Whether citing such cases in your assignment or using in court, it is important to always use the authorised citation of the case where possible.
You can check whether you have the authorised version by looking through our list of Authorised Reports.