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Case Law: How to find and use case law: How to find case law in the Library

What is case law? Where can you find Scottish and English case law? How can you check the status of case law?

How to find case law in the Library

Cadder v HM Advocate 2011 SC (UKSC) 13

1. Find out which series of reports the legal abbreviation refers to (N.B. neutral citations do not refer to a series of law reports). For example, SC (UKSC) is Session Cases (UK Supreme Court) cases:

2. Go the relevant series of reports (in the alphabetical sequence on level 5), e.g. Session Case (UK Supreme Court).

3. Look for the relevant year and/or volume, e.g. 2011.

4. Look up the page on which the report begins, e.g. 13.

Cadder v HM Advocate 2011 SC (UKSC) 13

Current Law Case Citator

In the Citator cases are listed alphabetically with their citations. The Citator is comprised of several volumes, each covering a separate period of time.

1. Look up the case by first party name in the alphabetical list:

  • Begin with the earliest volume (1948-1976) and work through each volume until you find the case (if you know the year the case was reported you can go straight to the volume covering the relevant period)

  • If it is a Scottish case make sure you look in the Scottish sequence at the back of the Citator (if unsure of the jurisdiction look in both parts)

  • If it is a case within the last year, look in the ‘Cumulative Table of Cases’ in the most recent issue of the Current Law Monthly Digest.


2. Take a note of the citation(s) listed beside the case name (e.g. 2011 SC (UKSC) 13);

3. Use the citation(s) to find the case on the Library shelves (see 'By Citation').

N.B. For cases reported before 1948 you may need to use other digests in the law reference section (e.g. the Faculty Digest).


Use textbooks or encyclopaedias in a relevant area of law - these usually contain references to major cases. Case citations may be found in footnotes and in the Table of Cases (at the front of a textbook). use SUPrimo to find textbooks:

Current Law Year Book

Use the Current Law Year Book to look up case summaries in the index:

  • refer to each year’s volumes separately;
  • for cases within the last year, use parts of the Current Law Monthly Digest;
  • in the index cases are referred to by year and paragraph number e.g. 93/459;
  • look up the case summary (by paragraph number) this contains a full citation.

Use the citation to locate the case in printed law reports (or online).

Children (Scotland) Act 1995, s 11

Current Law Legislation Citator

Start with the volume covering the date of your act and trace forward in time. Find the act by year and chapter / asp number (pre-1707 Scots Acts and asps appear towards the front of each volume.)

The entry for each act lists notable cases which considered individual sections reported during the period covered by each volume.

Online sources of case law

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