What is a case citator?
Case citators are a good starting point for case law research.
Note: It is important to remember that when you are searching in a case citator you are not searching full-text case law. Citators are a case law index - they provide a range of information about a case, including:
Why use a case citator?
The Australian Legal Information Insititute (AustLII) is a valuable source of free legal information. It provides access to a comprehensive range of legislation, journals, law reform commission materials and unreported judgments in all Australian jurisdictions.
AustLII is particularly useful for finding very recent cases, as it can sometimes take many months for a case to be reported in an authorised series.
However, remember that it is important to use the authorised version of a case if one is available.
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.
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
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:
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Often, the only information you have about a case is one or both of the party names. There are a few tips when searching by party name:
Tip: The moral of the story is: Don't give up on your first try - sometimes it is necessary to try multiple searches and multiple databases to find the case you need.