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Cases: Australia

Introduction to Caselaw

Find a case by citation

Start with the case citation. For example, Giannarelli v Wraith (1991) 171 CLR 592

The abbreviation between the two numbers is the name of the report series.  You can find many in our table of Common case abbreviations.

Alternatively, look up the meaning of the abbreviation within the citation to find the correct report series using the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.

The number before the report abbreviation is the volume or year, and the number after the report abbreviation is the location of the case in that volume or year.


Ways to search in caselaw databases

A caselaw database may have a browse option for finding cases on a topic. For example, in Australian Current Law (ACL) Reporter on LexisNexis AU (LNau) you can browse for cases on a topic by expanding the Table of Contents. Look at the database 'help' pages and guides for database specific browsing instructions.

Keyword searches
Generate keywords from the legal issues you identify. Consider using alternative keywords as illustrated in the box above. You will find alternative keywords in your background reading, thesauri and subject fields of the results you find when searching. Look at the database 'help' pages and guides for specific keyword instructions. 

Field searches
Use the fields available in a search template to return highly relevant results. For example, in a citator or full text judgments database, a catchword field search for "battered woman syndrome" will only retrieve cases where the phrase is contained in the catchwords. Look at the database 'help' pages and guides for database specific Field information.


Subjects: Law