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JST311 Research Skills Guide: Legislation & Case Law

Introduction to Case Law & Legislation

Key case law and legislation on your assessment topic can be identified via relevant dictionaries or encyclopedias, for example:

You'll find more resources on Case Law and Legislation in the Law Library Guide

Case Law

Case law is an important primary source in legal research.  It refers to the decisions made by the courts which can both establish and refine legislative law.  Case law is also referred to as “common law”.

Elements of a case citation
Finding a Case from a Citation

Use an abbreviations guide to find out the full title of law the report series:

Then search for the law report series in Primo Search.  If the library subscribes to the report series, follow the link to view online and navigate to the correct volume.


Legislation is law made by Parliament and comprises:

  • Acts (also called statutes)
  • Subordinate or delegated legislation (including regulations, rules, by-laws, ordinances, orders and legislative instruments)

Finding Legislation from a citation

1. Determine the jurisdiction - indicated at the end of the citation in brackets.  For example, Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW) is an Act from the NSW Parliament.

2. Find the legislation online - go to the database for the relevant jurisdiction (See Australian Legislation by Jurisdiction below). There will be options to browse by legislation type, such as Bill, Act, Delegated Legislation and so on.