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How to find...: Case law

Journal abbreviations

To locate the full titles of law reports, you will need to consult a list containing legal abbreviations. These can be found in:

Understanding details of a case

Law books on a shelf

Law books on a shelf by umjanedoan

Understand citations

To locate Case reports, you'll need to understand the elements of citation to a law report.

When referencing a particular section of a case, use the page number ie Ousley v The Queen (1997) 71 ALJR 1548, at 1550. This is called citation reference point or pinpoint reference.

Find case reports online

Reports of courts' decisions may be found in the following databases:

Find cases on an area of law

If you need to find a case on an area of law such as defamation, consumer protection, trade practices or family law:

  • Find a textbook via the library catalogue on the area of law and look at the cases mentioned.
  • Search law dictionaries or encyclopaedias such as the Halsbury's Laws of Australia or indexes like the Australian Legal Monthly Digest. 
  • Search online sources by the area of law or the name or section of an Act to which a case relates. 

Find printed case reports

Selected print law reports are held in Robertson Library. These items cannot be borrowed but can be photocopied (Copyright limits apply).

If Curtin library does not have the report you are looking for, try the library of another university with a law school (eg. Murdoch, UWA) or the State Library.


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Find journal articles

Journal articles may discuss important legal cases and topics. Sometimes when you locate a case, articles that refer to the case may also be listed. Try searching: