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Westlaw: How to use Westlaw: Westlaw UK Cases

How to access the Westlaw database service and use it to find: case law, legislation, journal articles and more. This also includes information about how to access international materials on Westlaw.

Westlaw UK

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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.

Westlaw UK: Finding Case Law Video

Link to Westlaw: Finding Case law [video]

e.g. Campbell v Mirror Group Newspapers

You can search for a case by party names (case name) by entering these in the 'Parties' box.

Select the 'Search' button.

A list of results matching your search will be displayed.

Tip: For cases where one of the parties is 'Her Majesty's Advocate', use the search term Advocate (not HMA or Her Majesty's Advocate).

e.g. [2004] 2 AC 457

You can search for a case by citation by entering this in the 'Citation' box.

Select the 'Search' button.

A list of results matching your search will be displayed.

 

Tip: You can search by either the traditional citation to a series of law reports (e.g. [2004] 2 AC 457 or [2004] 2 All ER 995) or the more recent 'neutral citation' (e.g. [2004] UKHL 22).

e.g. Media and entertainment; Breach of confidence; Privacy; Supermodel

You can search for a case by general subjects or a more specific keywords by entering these in the 'Subject/Keyword' box.

You can search for a case by any term occurring in the text  by entering these in the 'Free Text' box.

Select the 'Search' button.

A list of results matching your search will be displayed.

 

Tip: 'Subjects' (e.g. media and entertainment) and 'keywords' (e.g. breach of confidence) are added by editors at Westlaw and describe the general subjects covered by a case.  'Free text' terms (e.g. supermodel) are any occurring in the full text of a case document - they may help find a specific case, but may not be relevant to the main legal issues considered in the case.

e.g. Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995, s.47

By selecting 'More options' you can use additional boxes to search for cases which cite a section of an act or other piece of legislation.

Enter the title of the act in the 'Legislation Title' box and then select the provision type (section, regulation etc.) from the 'Legislation Provision No.' dropdown and enter the number in the box.

Select the 'Search' button.

A list of results matching your search will be displayed.

 

Tip: You can also find cases which cite a section by finding the legislation/provision using a Legislation Search and then looking under the 'Primary References' to find 'Key Cases Citing' or 'All Cases Citing'.

e.g. Cadder v HM Advocate [2010] UKSC 43, 2011 SC (UKSC) 13

By selecting 'More options' you can use additional boxes to search for cases which cite  another earlier case.

Enter the party names (case name) in the 'Cases Cited (Party)' box or enter the citation in the 'Cases Cited (Citation)' box.

Select the 'Search' button.

A list of results matching your search will be displayed.

 

Tip: You can also find later cases which cite a particular case by finding the known case using a Cases Search and then, from the 'Case Analysis', looking under 'Primary References' to find 'Key Cases Citing' and 'All Cases Citing' .

Westlaw Cases - Search Results

Each results record gives: the court, the neutral citation (if available) and date of the the judgment; information about the subject and keywords associated with the case; a link to the 'Case Analysis' document, citations to all the reports of the case (hyper-linked citations link to full-text reports e.g. [2004] 2 A.C. 457), and a link to the 'Judgment' (i.e. the official transcript - if available).

In the results list any negative judicial treatment is indicated with a red ‘minus’ icon: red ‘minus’ icon

Any positive or neutral treatment is indicated with a green ‘tick’ icon: green ‘tick’ icon

Case Analysis

Case Analysis documents contain information including:

  • Information about where the case is reported (as citations);
  • NB. Neutral citation (if available) first; then most authoritative report.
  • A case digest outlining the facts and points of law considered in the judgment;
  • The appellate history and status of the case (whether the case was appealed through the courts and whether any decisions were reversed);

From the case Analysis you can also access links to full text Law Reports and the Judgment as well as:

  • Primary References including information about and links to:
    • Key cases cited and all cases cited in the case;
    • Key cases citing the case – including information about subsequent judicial treatment- and all cases citing the case (with links to these Case Analysis documents); and
    • Legislation cited in the case.
  • Commentary References - links to relevant books, journal articles and ‘topic overviews’ referring to the case.

Law Reports and Judgment

Full text reports and transcripts of cases, if available, can be accessed by following blue citation (or 'Judgment') links from either the results list or ‘Case Analysis’ document.

How to check the status of a case on Westlaw UK

The Case Analysis helps you check whether a case can still be relied on as good law:

  1. Find the case through the Cases search.
  2. Select the link to the ‘Case Analysis’ in the relevant record.
  3. Look at the ‘Appellate History’ and (under 'Primary References') ‘Key Cases Citingsections. These indicate whether the case has been overruled, reversed, affirmed or otherwise considered.
  4. Also look at the 'Treatment' section (under 'Case Analytics') to view the treatment of the case by later cases and identify those later cases which have overruled, reversed, affirmed or otherwise considered the case. (You can filter by type of treatment.)

Tip: A red warning icon red 'minus' icon is also displayed at the top of records for cases which are no longer good authority.

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