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Cases: Researching cases

Finding cases

Finding cases

Researching cases

If you have a citation, party name, legal principle or topic of law, or other information about a case or cases, use this page to access a case database.

Law reports

Cases are selected for reporting if they have considered legal principles and made a contribution to the common law. Not all cases are reported. If you have a citation or know the law report series, use the Online law reports page to link directly to the online law report you need. Or look at the Print law reports page to see if its available in the Law Library.

Authorised law reports

The Library has many law reports available in print and online, some of which are authorised. Find out which reports are authorised using the Authorised law reports page.

Unreported judgments

If you want to check for recent judgments that may not be reported yet (unreported), use either the Researching cases page or the Courts and Tribunals page.

Use case law databases

Case databases enable you to identify and locate cases which are relevant to your research. They may provide case citations, digest information about the case, cases cited in the case, subsequent consideration of the case, journal articles or case notes written about the case, legislation considered by the case, and access to the full judgment.

The Australian case databases are:

There are also a couple of free case law websites

Selecting the right cases

Use the following checklist to help select cases which might be helpful in your research. You will always need to go to the full case and read it.

  • Is the case relevant to the issue at hand - look at the Catchwords provided at the top of the case

  • What court was the case heard in? Has it gone to Appeal? Look for the highest level court decision.

  • Was the case heard before a full bench or a single judge?

  • Has the case been reported and is there an authorised version available?

  • Has the case been written about in secondary sources, e.g. leading textbook or journal article.

  • Has the case been subsequently followed, approved, or applied? Is it still "good law"?

Understanding a case citation

To locate a case you need to identify what the case citation means. For example:

R v Fitchett (2009) 23 VR 91

Party names = R (appellant) v Fitchett (defendant) (Appeal case)
Year of law report/judgment = 2009
Law report volume = 23
Law report series = VR (Victorian Reports)
Beginning page number = 91

  1. Look up the meaning of the abbreviation
  2. Look in Search or the online law reports tab to find the law report

Recent and unreported cases can be found on AustLII. Note that these use Medium Neutral Citation (MNC) rather than law report citations. An MNC consists of the year of the judgment in square brackets, the Court abbreviation, and a sequential judgment number. For example: [2010] VSC 13