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Case Law: Law reports

This Guides provides information relating to how to look for specific Cases, using different methods. It also includes links to various databases, to enable you locate Australian Case Law and Cases from other Jurisdictions.

Reported cases

  • Law reports compile, index, and publish the decisions of courts. In addition to the text of the judgment, each published case generally contains catchwords that describe the subject content of the case, and headnotes that provide a summary of judges, issues and the facts of the case
  • Decisions published in law report series have raised significant points of law
  • Law reports may relate to jurisdiction or to subjects
  • In Australia, the law reports by jurisdiction are the authorised reports. For example, the Supreme Court of Western Australia publishes the Western Australian Reports
  • Law reports by subject collect decisions on a particular area of law and may cover several jurisdictions
  • Decisions may be published in more than one law report series. For example, a decision pertaining to criminal law from the Supreme Court of Western Australia may be published in the authorised Western Australian Reports and also in the Criminal Law Reports
  • Where available, always cite from an authorised report
  • If the case has not been published in an authorised report series, prefer a general unauthorised report series over a subject-specific unauthorised report series. For example, Australian Law Reports (ALR) should be cited in preference to Motor Vehicle Reports (MVR)
  • Law reports are available either online or on the shelf in the Beasley Law Library - see the list of Australian authorised reports here


Note: decisions of lower courts might not be published. For example, it is necessary to contact the court to obtain decisions from the Magistrates' Court of Western Australia.

Find Australian cases

Banner images: Image 1 retrieved from Pixabay. Image 2 by UWA Library. Image 3 retrieved from SBS. Image 4 retrieved from SL Blogs. Image 5 retrieved from Wikimedia.


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