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Foundations of Law

For students enrolled in Foundations of Australian Law LAW101

About Case Law Research

A case is a proceeding in a court of law whereby an individual or entity seeks a legal solution or remedy for a percieved injustice. The case will generally result in either a judge, judges or jury making a judgement about the proceeding, based on their interpretation of the law. Case law is law developed by judges in courts.

Cases are a primary source for legal research. Case law research involves reading legal judgments - understanding the reasons behind a judgment and how the law has been interpreted by the judge. 

Cases are selected for reporting if they have considered legal principles and made a contribution to the common law. Not all cases are reported.

The Biggest legal cases you've never heard of ....

Monash University has launched a podcast  series called "Just Cases". 

The focus is on court cases and the people who are caught in the crossfire of litigation in the Australian justice system. One of the first guests to feature on the show is Robert French, recently retired chief justice of the High Court of Australia and the new chancellor of the University of Western Australia.

Judgments - Reported and Unreported Cases

Reported cases are those judgments published in law reports. Cases which deal with significant points of law or establishing precedents are generally included in law reports. Various reports series are published in databases Lexis Advance, Westlaw AU and CCH Online.

Unreported cases are those cases not considered to establish an important precedent, or may be too recent, to be reported in a reports series. Unreported Judgments are in Lexis Advance, AustLIIJade, and the judgment databases on the individual court websites.

Unreported Judgments can also be accessed through the Queensland Judgments website.

General Law Reports

Australian Capital Territory Law Reports 2008- (Westlaw AU)

Australian Capital Territory Reports 1973- (LexisAdvance)

Commonwealth Law Reports 1903- (Westlaw AU)

Federal Court Reports 1984- (Westlaw AU)

Australian Law Reports 1973- (LexisAdvance)

Family Law Reports 1976- (LexisAdvance)

Federal Law Reports 1956- (Westlaw AU)

Australian Law Journal Reports 2003- (Westlaw AU)

New South Wales Law Reports 1971- (LexisAdvance)

New South Wales Conveyancing Law Cases 1998- (CCH IntelliConnect)

Unreported Judgments Land and Environment 1996- (LexisAdvance)

Northern Territory Law Reports : incorporating the Northern Territory Law Journal 2008- (Westlaw AU)

Northern Territory Reports 1979- (LexisAdvance)

Queensland Reports 1974- (LexisAdvance)

Queensland Reports 1859 - Queensland Judgments website. Also includes Unreported Judgments from 2002.

Queensland Law Reporter (ICLC)
Current issue and past year editions, plus Key Decisions database.

South Australian State Reports 1971- (Westlaw AU)

Tasmanian Reports 1992- (Westlaw AU)

Western Australian Reports 1898-1958 (AUSTLII)

Western Australia  Reports - (Westlaw AU)

Western Australia Unreported Judgments - eCourts Portal Western Australia

Victorian Reports 1957- (LexisAdvance)

Victorian Conveyancing Law Cases 1998- (CCH IntelliConnect)

Victorian Law Reports 1875-1956 (AUSTLII)

Case Reporting - Authorised and Unauthorised

What is an authorised law report?

Authorised reports contain judgments that have been reviewed by the Judges or Judge's Associate, prior to the publication. They are therefore considered to be an accurate record of the judgment.

In each Australian jurisdiction there is one series of law reports designated as authorised. If a decision appears in an authorised report series, this is the version that must be cited in student essays and scholarly publications - see Rule 2.3.1 in AGLC4.

In all Australian courts, there is a convention that the authorised report of a judgment be cited and handed up in court in preference to other versions.

What is an unauthorised law report?

Unauthorised reports are a legitimate record of court decisions. In some cases, the unauthorised report may be the only source to locate certain cases, particularly matters from local courts and tribunals covering specialised areas of law.

An authorised report (if available) should always be cited in preference to an unauthorised report, or unreported judgment. See:

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