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Information Types - Law

Case law terminology

Authorised law reports
Case citators
Generalist law report series
Judgments
Law report series
Medium neutral citations
Noting up
Parallel citations
Reported judgments
Subject-specific law report series
Unauthorised law report series
Unreported judgments
Updating

 

Authorised law reports

Some law reports series are designated as the authorised series for a particular court.
e.g. the Commonwealth Law Reports is the authorised series for the High Court of Australia.
These series contain judgments that have been approved by the court prior to publication.
If a case has been reported in more than one law report series, it is recommended that you read and cite the authorised version (AGLC Rule 2.3.1).

 

Case citators

Case citators are a searchable index of cases.
They provide information about each case, including:

  • party names, including any popular case name used
  • citation details of where the case has been published
  • details about the court, judge(s), and judgment date
  • a brief summary of the facts and decision
  • details about how the case has been treated by later cases
  • legislation and earlier cases referred to in the judgment
  • details of case notes or other publications about the judgment

 

Generalist law report series

See also Unauthorised law report series

Law report series that cover a particular court or jurisdiction.

e.g. Australian law reports

 

Judgments

The decision of a court in legal proceedings.
Includes the opinion of the court, plus orders.
Please note:

  • judgment = a decision of a court
  • judgement = the action of making, or the ability to make, a decision or opinion

 

Law report series

A series of volumes that contain published accounts of judgments.
These publications differ from unreported judgments as they are edited versions of judgments and include additional information, such as

  • catchwords - a list of subjects
  • headnote - a summary of the decision, plus orders
  • details of legislation and earlier cases referred to
  • arguments of legal counsel

 

Medium neutral citations

A system of legal citation that does not depend on format (print or online) or publisher.
It refers to the court or tribunal which heard the case, rather than a law report series.

 

Noting up

The process of checking how a jugdment has been used by later cases.
This is required to determine if the law as stated in a judgment is still considered "good law".
Also known as "updating" case law.

 

Parallel citations

Multiple citations that refer to the same judgment.
e.g. where a case has been published in multiple law report series.
You should only use one citation when referring to the judgment - preferably the authorised version, where available (AGLC Rule 2.3.1)

 

Reported judgments

Judgments as published in a law report series.
Reported judgments differ from unreported judgments as they are edited versions and include additional information, such as

  • catchwords - a list of subjects
  • headnote - a summary of the decision, plus orders
  • details of legislation and earlier cases referred to
  • arguments of legal counsel

 

Subject-specific law report series

See also Unauthorised law report series

Law report series that cover a particular legal topic.

e.g. Australian Torts Reports, Australian Criminal Reports, etc,

 

Unauthorised law report series

Law report series that are not authorised (see Authorised law report series).

Unauthorised law report series might be:

  • Generalist
    • cover a particular court or jurisdiction
    • e.g. Australian Law Reports
  • Subject-specific
    • cover a legal topic
    • e.g. Australian Torts Reports

 

Unreported judgments

Generally unedited versions of judgments made available online.
e.g. judgments on AustLII

 

Updating

See 'Noting up' (above)