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Case Law: How to find and use case law: Authoritative reports - the 'best' report
What is case law? Where can you find Scottish and English case law? How can you check the status of case law?
Although there are no 'official' reports in Scotland or in England and Wales, some series are regarded as being authoritative and should be cited in preference to others when a report is available for a case.
In Scotland the series regarded as authoritative and which should be cited in court or in academic work are the Session Cases and Justiciary Cases. (Should reports not be available in those series then Scots Law Times, Scottish Civil Law Reports or Scottish Criminal Case Reports, then other series, may be cited.)
In England and Wales the series regarded as authoritative and which should be cited in court or in academic work are those published by the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) - AC, Ch, Fam,QB. Should reports not be available in those series then All England Law Reports (All ER) , then other series, may be cited.)
The website includes a full guide and and a 'quick reference' guide as well as information about OSCOLA styles for EndNote, LaTeX, Refworks and Zotero.
'Refer to Session Cases [including Justiciary Cases, SC or JC] if possible. The next most authoritative series of law reports is the Scots Law Times (SLT), which is also arranged in separately paginated sequences of reports from different courts . With the exception of reports from the superior courts, the section is indicated in brackets following the abbreviation SLT. Other law reports series in Scotland include the Scottish Civil Law Reports (SCLR) and the Scottish Criminal Case Reports (SCCR).'
England and Wales
'If a case is reported in the [ICLR] Law Reports, this report should generally be cited in preference to any other report . If a judgment is not reported in the Law Reports, cite the Weekly Law Reports or the All England Law Reports. Only if a judgment is not reported in one of these general series should you refer to a specialist series, such as the Lloyd’s Law Reports or the Family Law Reports.'
'For the avoidance of doubt, the Court of Session requires that where a case has been reported in Session Cases it must be cited from that source. Other series of reports may only be used when a case is not reported in Session Cases.'
'For the avoidance of doubt, the High Court of Justiciary and Court of Criminal Appeal require that where a case has been reported in Justiciary Cases it must be cited from that source. Other series of reports may only be used when a case is not reported in Justiciary Cases.'
This Practice Direction is issued in order to clarify the practice and procedure governing the citation of authorities and applies throughout the Senior Courts of England and Wales, including the Crown Court, in county courts and in magistrates’ courts.
Online sources of case law
WestlawWestlaw provides full-text access to a variety of legal information, including many UK cases, UK and Scottish legislation, a number of UK legal journals and EU materials. Westlaw's Journals search provides abstracts from articles from UK-published journals, including articles not available in full-text on Westlaw. Non-UK material is available by following the link to 'Westlaw International' from the homepage.
When accessing the new Westlaw UK platform for the first time you will additionally be required to provide name and email. Please enter your University of Strathclyde email address. Thomson Reuter’s privacy statement is available via a link at the bottom of this 'Add personal information' page.
Lexis LibraryLexis Library provides full-text access to legal, tax and accountancy information. This includes many U.K. reported and unreported cases, legislation, and a number of U.K. legal journals. Commentary includes the Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia and Halsbury’s Laws of England. In force legislation relating to England and Wales as well as that from the Scottish Parliament is included, but some pre-devolution U.K. legislation applying solely to Scotland is excluded. Material from non-U.K. jurisdictions is available under the ‘Sources’ tab. The service includes Lexis Tax & Accountancy (formerly Butterworths Tax News Online and Tax Libraries Online). Connect to Lexis Library and choose the 'Practice Areas' tab. Then click on the Tax & Accountancy option.
JustisOneJustisOne is a legal research platform which provides access to case law and legislation as well as supplementary information.
JustisOne's search and analysis tools enable you to find cases and legislation from across many other services and publishers, including Westlaw, Lexis Library, HeinOnline, and BAILLI.
We have access to the UK core module, Session Cases Archive (1821-1872) and Immigration Appeal Reports on JustisOne.
HeinOnlineHeinOnline is a legal research database. The University’s subscription includes access to the ‘Law Journal Library’, ‘Scottish Legal History’ and ‘English Reports, Full Reprint’ databases. All content within HeinOnline is image-based in PDF format and fully searchable.