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Case Law: How to find and use case law: Where to find case law online

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

Where to find case law

The main sources of cases are law reports, digests and official transcripts.

Originally law reports and digests were print publications, but now there are online versions of these sources. Many law reports are available on database services e.g. Westlaw and Lexis®Library.

There are many different series of law reports and a case may be reported in more than one series. Some series are given more authority than others by courts and in academic writing. Reports are usually published in weekly, monthly or bi-monthly parts throughout the year and subsequently bound into one or more volumes for each year.

Online versions of official transcripts are often available far sooner that a report can be - although you should always cite a report if possible.

Westlaw Cases Search

Westlaw Cases Search

Westlaw contains the full-text of many law reports and official transcripts as well as ‘Case Analysis’ documents.

You can access the Cases search from the Welcome page. Select the ‘Cases’ link at the top of the screen.

This takes you to the search page, where you can search by free text terms, subject/keyword terms, party names and citation.

Select 'More options' for additional search options, including searching by cases cited or legislation cited.

Once you have retrieved a case you can use the Case Analysis document to check its status and find out whether it can still be considered good law or whether it has been overruled or reversed. To the left of the Case Analysis document you can access other supplementary information about the case.

Lexis Library Cases Search

Lexis®Library – contains the full-text many law reports and official transcripts as well as ‘Case Overview’ analysis documents.

You can use the simple search box at the top of the Home page or the 'Find a Title..' option to search for cases. However, for more search options you may prefer to use the main 'Cases' search screen.

Select ‘Cases’ on the menu bar at the top of the screen. This takes you to the ‘Cases’ search screen, where you can search by 'Case name', 'Search terms' or 'Citation'.

Advanced search options include specifying 'Judgment date', 'Court' and 'Judges'.

Once you have retrieved results, you can use the Case Overview document for a case to check its status and find out whether it can still be considered good law or whether it has been overruled or reversed. The Case Overview document also provides you with other supplementary information about the case.

 

Other online sources of case law

JustisOne

Contains reports and transcripts of cases including Session Cases archive (1821 – 1872) and Immigration Appeal Reports. By searching JustisOne you can also follow links to the full text of cases available on other services (including Westlaw and LexisLibrary).

 

HeinOnline: English Reports, Full Reprint (1220 - 1865)

The English Reports was issued in 178 volumes between 1900 and 1932, reprinting ‘nominate’ reports covering the period 1220 - 1865. Cases can be referred to by either English Report citation or Nominative citation. Access is also provided to the English ‘Statutes of the Realm’ (1235-1713) published between 1810 and 1825.

On the Welcome page under ‘Subscribed Libraries’, select ‘English Reports’, then ‘English Reports, Full Reprint (1220-1867)’. You can then choose to perform a simple ‘Case Locator’ search or ‘Browse’ the reports.

 

BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute)

BAILII contains official transcripts of decisions from British and Irish courts and tribunals.


Curia

Curia contains transcripts of case law from the Court of Justice of the European Union and General Court of the European Union.

 

HUDOC (European Court of Human Rights)

HUDOC contains transcripts of case law from the European Court of Human Rights.

Online sources of case law

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