Legal research


If you have a case citation, you can use online databases or print report series to find the text of the case. Use the database’s Help for guidance.

Westlaw AU   

Includes the Commonwealth Law Reports from 1903. Use the quick search box for the party names or, better, the citation, and tick the Cases box. A citation search for the Mabo land rights case would be: 175 CLR 1

Lexis+ (CaseBase)   

CaseBase indexes over 310,000 cases covering Australian and overseas reports as well as the unreported decisions of the High Court, Federal Court and Supreme Courts of Australian states and territories. CaseBase also indexes over a hundred Australian and overseas legal journals.

CCH iKnowConnect   

Search for or browse cases by category (Library) such as Tax, Family Law, Torts & Personal Injury, Discrimination, Intellectual Property, Sports & Medical Law etc. You will find Australian Torts Reports on this databases. Choose the Torts and Personal Injury Library.


Judgments And Decisions Enhanced. A free resource which keeps you up to date with the latest decisions of Australian and International Courts and Tribunals. Jade provides a sophisticated citator and allows you to see how specific paragraphs of a case have been subsequently considered. Australian legislation is also included.

Jade offers a paid subscription service to Jade Professional which provides you with advanced legal research tools such as visualisations of case law and legislation, email alerts, document checking to confirm and analyse your citations, and the ability to share and collaborate online. Curtin law students are eligible for a free subscription to Jade Professional. Using your Curtin email account simply email to request this. If you have any problems please email the Faculty Librarian, Law on


Open access database of Australian Commonwealth and State legal information. Content includes full text legislation, case law, journal articles and other legal materials.

eCourts Portal of Western Australia   

Access decisions or sentencing remarks from Western Australia’s courts and tribunals.

Cases may also be referred to as court decisions, judgments, judicial decisions, case law or the common law (as opposed to statute law or legislation) and, as primary sources, are also integral to legal research.

The first version of a case is the court’s unreported judgment.

Cases which are judged to have made a contribution to the common law and have considered legal principles are then chosen to be reported in law reports that may be found in print and/or online. Some of these are authorised reports which have been given official approval. There are also unauthorised report series which may be published more quickly, be more specialised and the cases may still appear later in authorised reports.

When you are citing a reference to a reported case, you should prefer the citation from an authorised source.

Understanding the elements of the citation to a case is the first step in locating the report and understanding the principles of the court judgments. In the example below we look at these elements:

Mabo1 v Queensland1 [No 2]2 (1992)3 1754 CLR5 16

  1. These are the names of the principal parties - in italics: Mabo (the plaintiff) and The State of Queensland (the defendant). These are the elements of the Case Name.

  2. This is an identifying number distinguishing this case from others with the same case name

  3. This is the year of the report

  4. This is the volume number of the report series

  5. This is the abbreviation of the law report series: CLR is the Commonwealth Law Reports

  6. This is the first page of the case report

Unreported judgments are handed down by the court. Some may subsequently appear in a report series if they are thought to be significant. Unreported judgments can be found using this medium neutral citation :

McLeod v The State of Western Australia 1 [2015] 2 WASC 3 48 4

  1. These are the names of the principal parties: McLeod (the plaintiff) and the State of Western Australia (the defendant). These are the elements of the Case Name.

  2. This is the year of the decision - note the square brackets

  3. This is the abbreviation of the court: WASC is the Supreme Court of Western Australia

  4. This is the case number: 48. This is the 48th case in the WA Supreme Court in 2015.

Before searching databases, start with secondary sources such as textbooks, case citators, encyclopaedias and commentary to find citations to leading cases on a topic.

To reference a particular section of a case using the Australian Guide to Legal Citation (AGLC) style, use the page number as a pinpoint reference or a citation reference point.

For example: Mabo v Queensland [No 2] (1992) 175 CLR 1, 7

For information on referencing in the AGLC style, see the Referencing tab.

Abbreviations of law reports and courts

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations   

Find the full title for many legal publication abbreviations from Commonwealth countries and the United States

Legal abbreviations – Monash University Library   

Use the full title of the law report or journal to find the link in the Curtin Library catalogue. You will not be able to link through to the law reporter from this Monash list.

La Trobe University Library Legal Abbreviations Search   

A database of some of the most frequently encountered abbreviations.

Lexis+ CaseBase Abbreviations   

When logged into Lexis Advance, go to the ‘Search Tips’ link in the right hand side of the screen and search for CaseBase Abbreviations.

FirstPoint Table of Abbreviations   

Click on the Help link on the right hand side of the screen and choose FirstPoint Table of Abbreviations.

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