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Finding cases

Finding cases on a topic

High Court of Australia, CanberraHigh Court of Australia. Image courtesy of Wilson Alfonso.

Often you are trying to find cases in a subject area, rather than a specific case. Case citators can also be used for this kind of searching.


Q. Find cases relating to the burden of proof in murder trials

In the Free Text Search box type "burden of proof" and murder > View results

Note: The hyperlinked subject headings are assigned by editors who have read the case and are an easy way of finding other relevant cases on your topic

Select the Burden of Proof link from the chain Criminal law > Particular offences > Offences against the person > Homicide > Murder > Evidence > Burden of proof. This provides a list of other cases that have been assigned the same particular subject heading.


Q. Find cases about unfair dismissal due to different types of discrimination

In the Catchwords/Summary box type unfair dismissal and discrimination > View results > Select a case name to view the digest - your keywords will be highlighted in red.

Finding cases by citation

The easiest way to find a case is by its citation - this is a unique identifier for the case. Sometimes, cases will have more than one citation, if they have been reported in different law report series.


This citator is published by Thomson Reuters

Q. Find a copy of the iiNet case 194 FCR 285

In the Case Citation box type 194 fcr 285 > confirm that the party name/s match the information you have, then select the case title to view the information about case.

Tip: To learn how to enter citations correctly select the blue field name to display search tips

Note: The range of information provided:

  • Digest (including hyperlinked subject headings)
  • Litigation history
  • Cases cited
  • Legislation judicially considered
  • Noted in journals
  • Party names

Select the PDF link next to the citation to link to a full-text copy of the case.

Note: There are multiple citations for this case as it has been reported in more than one law report series. However, not all the citations are hyperlinked - this means that the law report is provided by a different publisher:

E.g. ALR - the Australian Law Reports - are published by LexisNexis AU, not Thomson Reuters


This citator is published by LexisNexis AU

Q. Find a copy of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge case [1998] HCA 22

In the Citation box type 1998 hca 22 > confirm that the party name/s and other information you have matches the result

Tip: To learn how to enter citations correctly select Citation Help

Note: The range of information provided compared to a FirstPoint record:

  • Cases referring to this case
  • Journal articles referring to this case
  • Cases considered by this case
  • Legislation considered by this case
  • Catchwords & Digest

Note: We had the unreported citation for this case and could easily find a full-text version of the case in AustLII. However, by searching in CaseBase we have discovered that the case has been reported in the authorised series - the Commonwealth Law Reports. There is also a link to the ALR (Australian Law Reports) version, which is published by LexisNexis AU.

Finding cases by name

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:

  • Omit articles such as 'a', 'the' in names as well as terms such as 'Pty Ltd' in a company name
  • Beware of abbreviations - sometimes the case will be listed under the abbreviation, other times you will need to search for the full name
  • Beware of names with difficult or unusual spelling - always double-check spelling
  • Generally you should omit the 'v' if searching for a full case name - check the database help section to find out the correct way to enter the names
  • Party names are not unique, so it is important to verify that the case is the correct one by checking other details such as date, judge, court, topic etc.
Q. Find the 2007 case ACCC v Knight


In the Case/Article Name box type accc and knight > 1 result - verify other details to make sure it is the correct case

Tip: Read the search tip underneath the search box to find out the correct way to enter party names


In the Case Name box type accc and knight > no results

Note: This may be an example when you need to try the full name, not the abbreviation

In the Case Name box type australian competition and consumer commission and knight > 1 result - select the case name to view the digest

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.