Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
University of Newcastle Library guides

Law: Case Law: Getting started

Find legal resources on case law.

Case law

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‚Äč.
  • 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

Law: Legislation

Find legislative resources.

Law: Secondary Sources

Find secondary sources for law

Criminology

This guide provides undergraduates and graduates with specific resources for Criminology