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Law: Case Citators and Finding Cases

Understanding Case Citation

Case citations are a standard way of abbreviating the name and publication details of a case. The standard AGLC4 format is:

  • Reported Case
    Party 1 v Party 2 (Year) Volume Law Report Series Starting pagePinpoint.
    eg.  Bond Corporation Holdings Ltd v Western Australia (1992) 7 WAR 61, 64.

  • Unreported Case (medium neutral citation)
    Party 1 v Party 2 [Year] Unique Court Identifier Judgment No., Pinpoint.
    eg.  Dolphin Quay Pty Ltd v Appeal Holdings Pty Ltd [2011] WASC 352, [11].

Case citators

Case citators can help you confirm the details of a case and inform your research:

  • Party names and date of judgment
  • Parallel citations for the case
  • Presiding judge
  • Litigation history
  • Cases considered and cited
  • Whether any later cases have considered the case
  • Publications (e.g. journal articles) that discuss the case

The main case citators to use are:

  • Enter the topic keyword(s) into a legal database search field (e.g. Lexis+, Westlaw, AustLII).
  • Use Secondary Sources to;
    • Find the relevant topic section in a legal encyclopedia, e.g. The Laws of Australia (Westlaw) or Halsbury's Laws of Australia (Lexis+), and look for citations / links to specific cases.
    • Find a relevant journal article on the topic area and look for cases discussed in the article*.
  • Limit your search results to Cases.
  • Find a relevant textbook using the Library catalogue and look for cases mentioned > use those case citations to search in the legal databases for the actual case.
  • Search Unreported Judgments for keywords in the full text (see below)**.

* If you find a case in a journal article, encyclopedia or book, don't forget to check if the case is still good law using Lexis+ signals or Westlaw flags.

** If you find an unreported judgment, check for parallel citations to see if it has been reported elsewhere (authorised version).

  1. Using a case citator, enter the citation to locate the case. If a reported case, check for the most authorised version of the case.
    Tip: You can check the ECU list of authorised law reports.
  2. The citator will provide a link to the full text of the case if available. Check both Lexis+ and Westlaw for access to the full text.  Each publishes different law report series and covers different Courts.
  3. Consult Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations or La Trobe University Legal Abbreviations Search to identify the full law report series title.

Use CASE CITATORS to search for cases that have considered a particular Statute (Act of Parliament), Bill or delegated/subordinate legislation ('legislation judicially considered').

Lexis Advance (CaseBase):

  • Select the template for searching Cases from the Advanced Search option and enter the Legislation Title (and Provision number) into the correct field(s).

Westlaw (KeyCite):

  • Use the Westlaw search field to enter the name of the legislation as a phrase, eg. Trade Practices Act 1974
  • A section number can be added, but don't use any punctuation, eg. “Trade Practices Act 1974” & 52
  • Use the truncation symbol to locate all subsections, eg. Constitution & 128*
    Note: the truncation symbol varies for different databases.

Jade Citator (open access)

LawCite (open access)

Australian Historical Case Series (Open Access)