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Justice Studies: Case law and legislation

Introduction

You'll find more resources on Case Law and Legislation on 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.

Finding Cases on a General Topic

Before searching databases to find case law, use secondary sources (encyclopaedias, textbooks, commentary or journal articles) to direct you to the major cases in a particular area of law

Case Law

Legislation

Legislation is laws 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, Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) is an Act from the Australian (Commonwealth) Parliament.

2. Find the legislation online - go to the database for the relevant jurisdiction or look in Austlii. There will be options to browse by legislation type, such as Bill, Act, Delegated Legislation and so on.

Legislation