Case Law is developed by the courts, through Judges’ decisions, based on legal disputes. Case Law is also referred to as Common Law and is not based on Legislation. The courts use “the Doctrine of precedent” principle and the arguments are presented in the courts, supported by reference to earlier cases.
Judges decisions are made available in two forms:
1. Reported decisions are published in Law reports which are the written judgements of courts on points of law. They raise significant points of Law or expand on a specific point of Law already published. These decisions are made in superior courts.
2. Unreported Judgments are not published in Law reports, usually because they are either recent judgments or do not contain significant points of Law.
This guide (produced by ANU Library) helps to differentiate between reported, unreported, authorised and unauthorised versions of a case.
Unauthorised Reports are published quickly as they are the first version of the judgment released by the court. For this reason they are not the preferred authoritative version. They remain however a legitimate record of court decisions and be be the only source to locate certain cases.
If a judgement is published in both an authorised and unauthorised report series, cite the authorised version.
Examples of unauthorised reports include Australian Law Reports (ALR), Federal Law Reports (FLR) Australian Industrial Law Reports (AILR) and Australian Criminal Reports (ACR).
Authorised Reports are edited and checked by the Judge before publication. A list of Australian authorised reports can be viewed below.
A useful list of the coverage within these reports is available here.
|High Court of Australia||Commonwealth Law Reports||CLR|
|Federal Court of Australia||Federal Court Reports||FCR|
|Administrative Appeals Tribunal||Administrative Law Decisions||ALD|
|Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court||Australian Capital Territory Reports||ACTR|
|Supreme Court of New South Wales||New South Wales Law Reports||NSWLR|
|Supreme Court of the Northern Territory||Northern Territory Law Reports||NTLR|
|Supreme Court of Queensland||Queensland Reports||Qd R|
|Supreme Court of South Australia||South Australian State Reports||SASR|
|Supreme Court of Tasmania||Tasmania Reports||Tas R|
|Supreme Court of Victoria||Victoria Reports||VR|
|Supreme Court of Western Australia||Western Australian Reports||WAR|
Medium-Neutral Citation is part of the title of the judgment (having been allocated by the court at the time of delivering the judgment) Eg.  HCA 23
Noting Up: If you have used a case as an authority, it is necessary that you check whether the case has been subsequently overruled by the same or a 'higher' court in the hierarchy of courts. Originally came from actual reports being physically marked in the margins with references to later cases. There are Case Citators. For eg. CaseBase Citator in LexisNexis-Au, Keycite in Westlaw, and LawCite (Austlii).
The Square and Round Bracket Rule: Where the year is essential because it is an integral element of the citation, then the year is in square brackets. If the year is not essential (for eg, where there is a sequential volume number), it is still included but put in round brackets
See Concise Legal Research by Robert Watt for more information
Decisions of Australian courts and tribunals and legislation from Australian States and Territories.
This platform also has a current awareness service, in order to use the extra features of JADE (such as case annotations, and analysis and visualisation tools) students can request a Professional account free of charge by emailing to: firstname.lastname@example.org