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What is case law?
Case law is a primary source of law.
It is the recorded and published decision of judges.
Cases: reported or unreported?
All decisions of the courts start as unreported judgments.
The vast majority of cases will remain unreported.
However, when a case is deemed significant it is reported and published in a law report series
What is a case citator?
Summarises reported cases.
Shows the correct citation of a case including its medium neutral citation.
Shows if a case has been reported in more than one law report series.
Shows the earlier cases a case has considered.
Shows if a case has been considered in later cases.
Key Australian case citators
Key international case citators
The legal research process
Analyse the problem
Identify the key facts.
Determine the legal issues.
Document the research process as you go.
Gather background information
Secondary sources of law provide information about the law.
They often provide the key case law and legislation on the topic.
Use textbooks, legal dictionaries, legal encyclopaedias, journal articles.
Locate the key case law and legislation
The primary sources of law are the authoritative sources of law made by the courts and Parliament.
Evaluate each resource using the following criteria:
Currency: when was the information published? Is it up to date?
Relevance: does the information relate to your topic?
Authority: who wrote the information? Is it an authoritative source?
Accuracy: is it fact, opinion or propaganda?
Purpose: does the information inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
Update the law
Ensure your information is current and that the authoritative sources of law are still ‘good’ law.
Apply the law
Apply the law to the facts of your scenario.
Cite your references
The UON Law School uses the AGLC4 referencing style.
Want to see a related Guide? Click on the image below
Find legislative resources.
Find secondary sources for law
This guide provides undergraduates and graduates with specific resources for Criminology