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Media Law: Case reports

Find printed case reports

To locate a print report of a case, you will need to:

Find the full title of the law report, using a list containing legal abbreviations

Check the library catalogue by this full title to locate the shelf number (treat law reports as Journals or Periodicals)

Go to the Government Publications shelves on level 4 to find the law report that matches the volume number, year and page

In the Robertson Library, most printed law reports are held in the Government Publications and Legal Reference Collection on level 4.  These items cannot be borrowed but can be photocopied.

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


Referencing a case

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.

For more information on referencing law reports, see our Referencing guide page within this guide. 

Useful user guides

Need extra help with using legal databases? Try these user guides:

Find case reports online

Reports of some courts' decisions can be found on free Web databases such as AustLII and databases that some libraries subscribe to, for example, LexisNexis.

Use the following databases to find cases (court decisions) online :

Understanding citations to a case

To locate Case reports, you'll need to understand the elements of citation to a law report. A reference to a case will look like this :

Theophanous v Herald & Weekly Times  (1994)   182   CLR   104

    1                                1                                              2            3         4         5


In this reference, reported judicial decisions are cited using the following :

(1) the names of the principal parties (plaintiff is Theophanous defendant is the HWT (in italics)

(2) the year of the report or the year the decision was made

(3) volume number of the report, where applicable

(4) the abbreviation for the name of the hard copy report, in this case the Commonwealth Law Reports

(5) the first page of the case in the CLR

Note:  If you are required to provide a 'pinpoint' reference for this report, e.g. to give the precise location of the quotation you are using from page 120, please state that page at the end, so that your citation reads: 

Theophanus v Herald & Weekly Times (1994) 182 CLR 104, at 120

Sometimes a report does not have a volume number.  In this case, the date of the report will be in square brackets, for eg,

Eatock v Bolt [2011] FCA 1103 Or  The Queen v Cobb [1999] FCA 159

The Queen v Cobb [1999] FCA 159


Where one of the parties in the case is the state or federal government of the day, the citation will look like this:


Mabo v Queensland [1998] HCA 69  OR

The Queen v Cobb [1999] FCA 159   OR

R v Kanaan [2005] NSWCCA 385 

where R stands for Rex or Regina, depending on whether there was a King or Queen reigning at the time that the case was being heard 

For more on Citation, visit the Reference sources  tab within this guide.

Finding electronic case reports

This is a short tutorial on finding electronic case reports through AustLII.

Interesting case?

 A Law Student's Life by Jenea Medina

Understanding details of a case


This guide was created with the assistance of our colleagues from other libraries. We would like to acknowledge the contributions made by the following: